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Water Quality Testing Expanded to Pelada!

Director Vanessa Bézy and Volunteer Nancy Fannon collect water samples from our newest testing location at Playa Pelada!

Many people in Nosara rely on the WCA’s weekly Water Quality Monitoring Program to stay informed on the levels of fecal bacteria present in the ocean. This information is critical in order to monitor the impacts that swimming in the water may have on the health of surfers, residents, and visitors of the area.

Since 2018, the WCA has collected and processed water samples from three locations. In Playa Guiones, testing is done at Baker’s Beach as well as at the Palm Tree (note: the Big Palm washed away in 2020, but residents continue to fondly refer to that location along the beach by the same name). The third testing location is where the Rio Nosara empties into the ocean.

In 2021, additional funding was made available to allow the WCA to begin testing for enterococcus bacteria at each of these locations. These tests, along with fecal coliform tests, provide two important measures of the amount of fecal matter in the ocean.

Now, in 2023, expanded funding has allowed for the WCA to begin testing for fecal coliform and enterococcus at a FOURTH location — Playa Pelada! This is an exciting development and will provide swimmers and surfers at this beach with the same valuable data those at Playa Guiones benefit from. Every Wednesday, testing samples are collected from the ocean at these four sites, with the full results posted on Thursdays.

Weekly testing data can be found at the following sites:

The testing data generally shows that the presence of fecal matter in the ocean worsens as the rainy season begins, as months of untreated sewage accumulated throughout the dry season gets washed into the ocean. Less favorable results also persist outside of the rainy season; further testing upstream at the estuaries has demonstrated that it is likely that the Guiones section of Nosara is responsible for a significant amount of this problem.

A word about Nosara’s ongoing septic issues

The presence of sewage in the ocean will not get better until all Guiones home and business owners do their part to ensure that their septic systems are not contributing to the problem. This is a problem for individual home and business owners to fix. While you may think your system is fine, extensive review of many systems throughout Guiones has demonstrated that it is likely that most systems — even new ones — are inadequate for our fragile ecosystem.

Volunteer Nancy Fannon collects water samples from Playa Pelada. All in a hard day's work!

What can you do to make a difference?

Please have your system checked so that we can all continue to enjoy the ocean — which is the main reason many of us came to Nosara to begin with. You can read more about wastewater treatment options here!

How else can you help?

Volunteer! Our testing efforts are in need of volunteers to help collect and process ocean water tests. The time commitment is low and speaking from personal experience, the reward is high! Please consider supporting these efforts with your time; reach out to or fill out this form to get started!

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