Five Pacific beaches were declared the cleanest in the country during this year’s Ecological Blue Flag (BAE) ceremony, held on Monday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San José.
Three beaches – Playa Blanca in Puntarenas and Matapalo and Punta El Madero in Guanacaste – obtained the maximum of five stars in the certification program sponsored by the Water and Sewer Institute’s (AyA) National Water Laboratory.
Junquillal in Guanacaste and Manuel Antonio in Puntarenas received three stars during the event, which was hosted by Vice President Alfio Piva, Environment Minister René Castro, AyA President Yessenia Calderón and BAE program coordinator Darner Mora.
A total of 122 beaches submitted applications for the Blue Flag program, of which 107 received at least one star.
The BAE is a voluntary program that annually awards compliance with a series of requirements including water quality, safety conditions, general services and environmental protection.
Blue Flags are awarded in 10 categories: beaches, communities, schools, natural protected areas, watersheds, climate change, climate neutral community, community health, sustainable homes and special events. Awards in the other categories will be presented in coming weeks.
A total of 2,959 communities, organizations and companies submitted bids for the 2013 awards, as reported by the organizing committee.
AyA launched the BAE program in 1996, following Spain, which established the program in that country in 1986, awarding the first Blue Flag in 1987. Since then, more than 30 countries have adopted the Blue Flag program, including Panama, Guatemala and Perú.
Learn more about the Blue Flag program (in Spanish) here: www.banderaazulecologica.org