Rio Water Quality


Jul 30th, 2015, 07:47 AM
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Rio Water Quality

According to an AP investigation, the water quality in Rio is beyond abysmal:

Am going to Brazil & Argentina in Feb, and was originally thinking of going to Rio for the beaches, but after this, am seriously questioning if I should just stick to Sao Paulo (where I am flying into from the U.S.) and finding a hotel with a good pool... Any Brazil experts care to weigh in on this report?

And on a somewhat related question, is it OK to drink the tap water in Brazil & Argentina? Am assuming no...

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Jul 30th, 2015, 10:27 AM
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Yeah, so what else is new?
Over a decade ago, the major Brazilian media outlet Globo did a TV expose on the percentage of fecal colliform in the sand at Copacabana (and other major beaches countrywide). Doubt much has changed.
Botafogo is a bay with a very narrow mouth, and quite polluted.
No city I know of in Brazil has an adequate sewer system. When it rains, Rio floods and the sewers overflow (as do many in other cities worldwide).
About a year ago, the Brazilian media did an expose on the water quality of the showers along the beach postos in Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, where beach goers rinse off.
But.....the water is too cold and the currents too treacherous in Rio to spend much time in the ocean anyway. Beach time is for seeing and being seen.

Despite this, you probably couldn't pay me to stay in Sao Paulo, even in a nice hotel with pool.
And with considerable beach hours racked up, I've never felt any effects of any of that in Rio (or elsewhere in Brazil).

If you want nicer beaches around Rio, take the (fun) ferry ride over to Niteroi and go to Itacoatiara, or go out to Prainha (past Barra de Tijuca to the south/west).

Drink bottled water. It's cheap. Sold on every corner. Just brushing teeth in a good hotel shouldn't require bottled water though; they have filters.

Relax. Have fun.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 10:32 AM
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What about Bahia for beaches instead? (I haven't been, but the area was recommended to me by a Brazilian friend).
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Jul 30th, 2015, 01:18 PM
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It comes down to numbers---numbers of people. The more residents, the more problems with water quality. The sewer systems do not work or are non-existent in most of Brazil. So the more people, the more sewage, the more problems. (It is probably so for any "emerging", "developing" or non-first-world country.) So the bigger the city, the worse the problem. Rio is huge. Sao Paulo is even bigger. It rains. They flood. the streets fill with runoff.
btw, It's also a place where the bathroom pipes are narrow, and people commonly dispose of used paper in a little open basket, lest it cause a domestic disaster if flushed.

Bahia is paradise IMO. It's where I spend most of my time. But the same report on sand quality also talked about my favorite city beach in Salvador, the major city of Bahia, full of African culture, lovely Colonial architecture, and dancable music. Of course I swim laps at that urban beach regularly, head in the water, and have never in a couple of decades had a problem (skin rash, stomach upset, ear infections, etc).
Bahia has miles of less populated beaches, tropical and gorgeous. I've never asked about the sewer system in any small beach village I've visited, but I've never had a problem and truthfully I don't give the issue much time.

IMO if you're squeemish about most anything "third world", Brazil might not be for you unless you stay in some international chain hotel in a big city. If you can put it all out of mind, you might come to love the place despite, or even because of, its flaws.
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Aug 1st, 2015, 05:36 PM
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What I find disturbing is this report that international Olympic level horses (read hundreds of thousands in value and thousands of hours in training) arriving for trials are to be housed in a location in which a fatal and easily spread bacterial disease has already infected Brazilian horses.
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