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Orihuela Costa Success

As the summer season is about to descend, it´s time for the town halls to unveil the beaches in the area that have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag of quality. There have been losses, but mostly gains, with the Alicante region and the Costa Blanca favouring particularly well once again for 2013.

The list of those beaches, by area, who will be displaying the blue flag to the Costa Blanca South are Alicante – Sant Joan, La Albufereta, Postiguet and Saladar. Elx – El Altet, Arenales del Sol-Sur, La Marina, Carabassí and Les Pesqueres-El Rebollo. Santa Pola – Calas del Este, Varador, Llevant and Tamarit. Guardamar del Segura – La Roqueta, Centre and El Moncaio. Torrevieja – El Cura, Los Náufragos, Cala Piteras, Los Locos and La Mata (Sur). Orihuela – Punta Prima, Playa Flamenca, La Zenia, Cala Capitán, Cabo Roig, Campoamor and Barranco Rubio. Pilar de la Horadada – Mil Palmeras, Jesuitas, Puerto and Playa Conde.

In the North of the region: Denia – Les Bovetes and Marineta Casiana. Xabia – La Grava, L Ì�Arenal and La Granadella. Teulada – El Portet and Les Platgetes. Benissa – Cala Fustera. Benitatxel – Playa Benitatxel. Calp – La Fossa, Cantal Roig and Arenal Bol. Altea – La Roda and Cap Blanc. L’Alfàs del Pi – Racó de L’Albir. Benidorm – Llevant, Mal Pas and Ponent. Finestrat – La Cala. La Vila Joiosa – Varadero, Ciutat, Paradís, Bon Nou and La Caleta. El Campello – Carrer de la Mar and Mutxavista.

The Mayor of Orihuela municipality, Monserrate Guillén, accompanied by the councillors for tourism, beaches and the coast, and international residents, Rosa Martínez and Martina Scheurer respectively, to speak of their pride in the Orihuela Costa being one of the most recognised areas of quality beaches along the Mediterranean coast.

With less pomp and ceremony than previous years, the councillors all spoke about the different elements and improvements made this year, including the extension to the life guard services, the facilities provided by the Chiringuitos, and the quality of the water, amongst other things.

The former councillor for the coast, Pedro Mancebo, also called by at the Playa Barranco Rubio, but didn´t hang around for the presentation. Mancebo has been critical of the beach management once again, and feels that the standards have slipped, risking the awards in the future.

The Orihuela Costa is one of the most awarded areas for the quality and cleanliness of its beaches. Rosa Martínez, the councillor for tourism, stressed that Orihuela has seven Blue Flags over 16 kilometres, which makes this town “of the highest concentration of blue flags in Spain, if not Europe”. Continuing to state that “Throughout the year, the government team has been working for these flags”, detailing the Infrastructure responsible for maintaining access to the beaches, sanitary toilet facilities and furnishings, which has needed two brigades of three people with the support of two other operators if necessary. The annual cost of this maintenance is 400,000 euro.

The breakdown of investment that makes this possible was explained in some detail. The maintenance of the lighting is charged at 450,000 euro and maintenance of green areas adjacent to beaches and shores costs 899,000 euro annually to the City Council. The surveillance and rescue and ambulance on the beaches has gone out to tender for 310,000 euro and maintenance of footbaths costs between 1,500 and 3,000 per year. “This amounts to 2,064,000 euro, plus rainwater collectors that Aquagest has in Campoamor, with a total investment of more than three million euro this year”, said Martinez, who considered that “our shoreline is good of the first order”.

In his speech, the Mayor of Orihuela, Monserrate Guillén, said, “We are very happy to have seven flags, in addition to receiving the congratulations of the Valencian Consell vice president. It’s not easy to keep monitoring services and other aspects that distinguish Orihuela´s beaches. To those who doubted we could get them, we must say that we have achieved it”.

In this sense, he detailed the surveillance and rescue service on the beaches including an increase in staff of two lifeguards that will serve Playa Barranco Rubio. In addition, there will be a water chair for disabled bathers in this beach, where it was never provided before. The mayor has predicted that, as of the 10th of June, there will be an enhanced street cleaning team of two people in each development of the coast. Thus, 14 people will be hired and scheduled to start work next week. This team of cleaners will be increased with the season and may reach up to 25 people during the summer.

As with previous years, there were questions from a handful of people who questioned the cleanliness of the beaches, although not as many or as vocal as previous years, the only complaint seemingly being the fact that seaweed is not cleaned away often enough, but as the councillors explained, along with the technical engineer responsible for beaches, it is part of the requirement of the Blue Flag standard to leave seaweed in place for periods of time, as this serves as both a natural barrier between the beach and the sea, and also helps to aerate the water. This point has been raised and covered on numerous occasions in the past. Criticism was levied towards neighbouring beaches which were free of seaweed, but it was pointed out that this is a natural phenomenon, due to the shape of the coastal area, and is not caused by any artificial intervention.

As for the collection of algae, Guillén has advanced the working of the service contract, which includes “the collection, transport and processing, not the elimination, of algae at minimal cost, rather than the atrocities that were paid in the past”. For Safety, there will be a service of prevention and monitoring of Civil Protection comprised of 20 volunteers. “We are waiting to see if we can hire local police, as there is difficulty in doing so”, he continued.

The Councillor for the Coast, Beaches and International Residents added that there is now a line of seaweed on the beaches because the FEE indicates that they should leave it on the shore during the offseason to promote the regeneration of the beach and prevent the loss of sand. “After removing the algae, we do not waste it, but it is reused”, she stated. In addition, signs provide all information about the blue flags in several languages, in addition to information on water quality set out in other devices in the access to the beach. “Municipal staff visit the beaches every day and makes a list of the minor deficiencies that may have to have to be repaired”, she concluded.

Even though the Blue Flag credit is considered to be the highest award available, the beaches of Orihuela have also received a similar accolade from the Spanish “Q” flag system, which will all be presented in the next few weeks.

All in all, the summer season is just about to get underway, with massive investment from both the town hall and private companies that should see the next wave of inspections clear for a continuation of the flag standard, on the beaches of Punta Prima, Playa Flamenca, La Zenia, Cala Capitán, Cabo Roig, Campoamor and Barranco Rubio.

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