As far as awareness-raising campaigns go, it is certainly innovative. Municipal workers have been out and about in Pollensa, Puerto Pollensa and Cala Sant Vicenç, stencils in one hand and white paint in the other. Next to drains have appeared a message in four languages, which in English is “This ends up in the sea”.
Pollensa’s environment councillor, Maria Buades, says that this is all about making people aware of the harmful impact on marine flora and fauna from “daily habits”, which need to change. “The aim of the campaign is to make residents aware that the sea does not start at the beach.”
It starts, therefore, with what goes into the drains and sewage system.
The councillor wishes to get the citizens to change habits of a lifetime because, and in the specific case of Puerto Pollensa, there is the historical nature of the drainage network, which - as one is well aware - can result in apparent contamination. This, Buades suggests, is only when it rains. However, there have been occasions when it hasn’t rained and spills appear.
She goes on to say that over the past fifteen years the town hall has been carrying out major renovation. This covers practically the whole of Puerto Pollensa. “Through past actions and those that are currently being undertaken, a structural problem of sewer network malfunction is being reduced.” There has been a “remarkable” improvement in terms of contamination in the bay.
This remarkable improvement is presumably why the likes of the ASDEPP defence of Puerto Pollensa association produce images of what seem to be spills and have made such a nuisance of themselves that the mayor doesn’t intend inviting them to meetings any longer.
The town hall is right to challenge findings regarding water quality that ASDEPP has presented, but the point is that there are spills, and everyone knows there are. Which is why the town hall announced two weeks ago that there is to be a major study of the impact on marine life in the bay with the intention of securing European funds to correct issues that have existed for years. The Imedea Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies is to lead this study.
In this regard, Podemos are calling for a sewage “master plan”, which sounds very similar to what Junts Avançam presented at a council meeting. This was approved, but Junts have suggested that it won’t be acted on.
The Podemos master plan would, meanwhile, cost around 100,000 euros to draft. It would be “a comprehensive diagnosis”, which again has echoes of the Junts proposals. Podemos add that they give “total support” to the town hall’s Imedea study, but “it remains to be seen if there are concrete steps and and not just words”.
Meantime, the citizens are being invited to change their habits by an awareness-raising campaign which, while well intentioned, might also be said to act as a reminder of the deficiencies of the drainage system and of past institutional intervention.