Did you know that the beach at Garza Blanca Preserve Resort and Spa in Puerto Vallarta has the international Blue Flag accreditation? This means that Garza Blanca’s beach is recognized as environmentally healthy per the strict standards of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
The FEE is a nonprofit non-governmental organization that started in Europe but is now a worldwide organization. The Blue Flag is a trademark used by the FEE to indicate that beaches and marinas around the world are environmentally friendly, clean and safe. The Blue Flag program started in France in 1985 and today, has become a global program with 44 countries participating. In addition to issues of accessibility and safety, the most important part of a Blue flag accreditation is the month testing of the waters to maintain their status.
Mexico has a total of 53 Blue Flag beaches. Ten of them are located in the Puerto Vallarta area. And one of two of the blue flag accredited marinas in Mexico is here in La Cruz de Huancaxtle.
Here is a list of local Blue Flag beaches.
3. Conchas Chinas I
4. Conchas Chinas II
5. Garza Blanca
7. Playa de Oro
Bahía de Banderas
1. Nuevo Vallarta Norte
Santa María del Oro
1. Laguna Santa María del Oro
Bahía de Banderas
1. Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz de Hunacaxtle
Water Quality is Paramount
The Blue Flag program requires that beaches achieve ‘excellent bathing water quality’ and must reach the water quality standard set by the Blue Flag program, or the standard set by their own municipality, whichever is higher. Water samples must be taken every 31 days from the areas of the beach with the highest concentration of swimmers, as well as at water inflow sites such as river mouths. The water samples must be drawn by an independent technician, and must be tested for chemicals and microbes by an independent laboratory with national or international accreditation.
In addition to testing for microbes and chemicals, there must be no visible pollution in the water, such as oil film on the surface of the water, or plastic containers floating in the water. If the water is not clean, the beach can lose its Blue Flag for the season.
Education is where change starts
The Blue Flag program requirements state that if specific sensitive natural areas (including Marine Protected Areas) exist near a Blue Flag beach, it is strongly recommended that some of the educational activities address these sensitive natural areas.
Bathing water quality information must be displayed on the Blue Flag information board. The information must also clearly explain how the water quality results relate to the imperative criteria for water quality, with specific reference to sampling frequency and the conditions under which Blue Flag status can be withdrawn.
Keeping it clean
In order to be a member of the Blue Flag program, the local authority or beach operator should establish a beach management committee. The beach management committee should ensure compliance with all environmental management criteria, including Coastal and Marine Protected Area requirements if appropriate, as well as all environmental laws and regulations in the jurisdiction.
The beach must be clean. Part of environmental management is ensuring the sand itself as well as all surrounding areas are free from trash and debris. Waste disposal bins must be available at the beach in adequate numbers, and regularly maintained.
Safe beaches for all
At Blue Flag beaches, safety is one of the primary concerns. Lifeguards must be present and easily recognizable, must be trained in life saving procedures, and must have public rescue equipment and first aid kits.
A beach must be accessible to all (regardless of age, gender, political views, religion, or physical ability), and it is preferable that free access be granted to the public, in order to be eligible for Blue Flag accreditation.
Blue Flag accreditation is a voluntary program with numerous strict requirements in several categories. Here is a short summary of some of the requirements. You can learn more at http://www.blueflag.global
Source: Garza Blanca