Blue water, Blue Flag?

With summer approaching and the weather getting hotter, people are looking for ways to cool down and get a break from the high temperatures, to which Lousã offers the perfect solution with its river beaches. In the municipality there are 3 river beaches, 2 of which have attained the Blue Flag certification.

Bogueira Beach, awarded with the Blue Flag Certification

Awarded by the European Blue Flag Association (ABAE), the blue flag certification requires the fulfillment of a plethora of criteria that range from surveillance, excellent water quality, accessibility for disabled people, no litter, the prohibition of domestic animals at the premises (except for guide dogs) and environmental education. Soraia Correia, superior technician for the environment of the Lousã municipality, highlights surveillance as the hardest requirement to comply with due to the difficulty to hire lifeguards in the area, motivated by the smaller season.

Sra. da Graça beach is the only one of the 3 that lost its entitlement to this certification. Nevertheless, the local government aims to restore it in time for the 2024’s bathing season. This happened due to the 2017 wildfire, which bare the soil. Combined together, the bare land and the intense rain culminated in heavy river sediment accumulation  negatively affecting its waters, making its quality drop below blue flag standards. Nevertheless, the quality was still good enough to fulfill swimming criteria. 

President of the Parish of Serpins, Paulo Simões, argued that the loss of the certification did not stop people from frequenting this beach, as the rest of the standards were upkept, and even improved. Such improvements took place due to the participatory budgeting of 2019, where Lousã’s residents voted on the projects they wanted to see implemented in their town. This beach’s project was the most voted for, having received a funding of over 200 000 euros which led to many improvements regarding the refurbishment and modernisation of the premises,aiming to attract more and more visitors. 

Bogueira River Beach, located further down the river, did not have its water quality affected by the circumstances, despite sharing the same stream with the latter. That can be explained through a curious natural water filtration process that took place in the surrounding rocks, allowing the beach to maintain its blue flag. Interestingly, its surroundings were more affected by the fire than the ones of the previous beach. Since the fires, the area suffered from a proliferation of invasive flora, namely  experiencing a burst of acacia plants. The beach is also equipped with various amenities, such as a bar, showers, toilets, a water sports area, children’s playground, barbecue area and swimming pool adding up to the idyllic scenery.

Well-known for the breathtaking scenery, the Lousã municipality is rising in popularity and its beaches are no exception. Heavily visited by tourists and nature lovers attracted to a slower pace of life, not even the loss of the blue flag has been able to  stop the phenomena.  

Gustavo Santos, Inês Amaral, Roze Aleksa Bogdane, Sara Mifsud, Tjaša Marolt