More than a hundred drains and pipelines, many of them of unknown origin, discharge into San Antonio Bay

  • This article is written by ‘Salvem sa Badia de Portmany‘ in Spanish and machine translated, with edits for sufficient understanding.
  • Introduction comments by Nicholas Gibbs, Ibizan Editor

“Thank you to the Salvem sa Badia de Portmany group for their kind permission to publish their article, translated into English. 

Those of us living in Ibiza know that the tourism industry has taken a big hit in 2020, and in that context it may seem severe to publish an article that will only hurt the reputation of Ibiza and San Antonio. But what can we do, ignore it? The reality is that anybody living in Ibiza, including San Antonio, knows that issues of pollution through sewage pumping into the sea is a recurring problem. A recurring and very nasty problem. We all know it, though the extent of it will come as a surprise to most when reading this article. 

It is outrageous and ridiculous that in 2020 we do not even know the source of, or what is pumping through, 53 pipelines going into the waters of San Antonio Bay. And this is without the acknowledged issue of raw sewage pumping into the bay whenever our antiquated and broken public sewers cannot cope. 

"Outrageous & Ridiculous", Nobody Knows What is Discharged from 53 Drains Pumping Effluent into San Antonio Bay
"Outrageous & Ridiculous", Nobody Knows What is Discharged from 53 Drains Pumping Effluent into San Antonio Bay

It is one of the many issues that repeatedly lead us to ask, ‘where is the money?’

Ibiza has been an unparalleled success story for decades. The island success may lead you to believe that we would have an infrastructure rivalling anything destinations such as Dubai have to offer. But far from it. Scratch beneath the surface and Ibiza is little more than that you would expect of an emerging nation. Exaggeration? Would it surprise you to know that of the water leaving the Sant Josep treatment plant only 30% actually reaches our taps? That is no exaggeration, 70% of our precious water is lost in the network of broken and crumbling supply pipes. That is how poor our infrastructure is. Where is all that tax money? 

This is one of many such stories that leads us to continue asking that question, where is the money?

Over to the good folks at Salvem sa Badia de Portmany”

109 Pipes & Drains Between Cala Gracio and Cala Bassa

The ‘Salvem sa Badia de Portmany’ initiative has carried out a count of the underwater drains and spillways that exist in the bay of Sant Antoni.

This analysis concludes that there are currently a total of 109 pipelines that discharge directly into the sea. Many of them do not have authorization and, furthermore, it is unknown whether they are pluvial rainwater or faecal.

To carry out this count, the Balearic Islands’ Space Dades Infrastructure (ideIB), which is managed by the Balearic Government, has been used as a source. This tool, freely accessible through the Internet, collects data from different institutional sources.

The ideIB establishes that there are a total of 100 discharge pipes on the coastline from Cala Bassa to Cala Gració. Of these, 47 would be drains and the remaining 53 are pipes of an undefined nature.

These elements are made with very different materials, such as PVC, concrete, aluminium, fibre cement, iron, stainless steel or polyvinyl, among others.

Sewage Overflow Direct Into Sea is a Regular Occurrence

In addition to the aforementioned conduits, we must add the es Caló de s’Oli outfall and eight other spillways that divert sewage into the sea every time there is a blockage in the main collector that runs parallel to the coast.

This situation, which should be exceptional, occurs more frequently than would be desirable, since the sewage collector is a very obsolete infrastructure, installed in the 70s that is to say, almost half a century ago.

These eight spillways jut out slightly into the sea and are located in ses Coves Blanques, es Pouet, s’Estanyol, es Caló d’en Serral (two), Punta Pinet, Punta Xinxó and Punta de ses Fontanelles. Therefore, as with the hundreds of drains and pipes that exist in the same area, they are distributed throughout the bay.

Pollution of the bay due to sewage discharges constitutes one of the greatest weaknesses facing a territory in which some 28,000 inhabitants reside and with around 30,000 tourist places. In this sense, it is important to remember that the European Environment Agency last year classified a total of nine Spanish beaches as unhealthy – among them, the bay of Portmany.

6 of 10 Unsafe Ibiza Beaches are in San Antonio Bay

The reduction of pollution indices, therefore, constitutes a strategic objective both to improve the quality of bathing water and to offer sanitary guarantees to bathers and avoid a serious deterioration in the image of the bay as a tourist destination for sun and sun.

Likewise, the reports that the Ministry of Health has undertaken, which compile the results of the analyses that were carried out throughout the summer of 2018 on the Ibizan beaches and that were made public in June of last year, indicate that ten beaches on the island recorded levels of faecal contamination higher than those allowed by law. However, six of them are located around the bay: Cala Bassa, Port des Torrent, es Pinet, es Pouet, s’Arenal and Caló des Moro. S’Arenal.

Limitations

The ideIB inventory compiles the submarine drains and spillways detected in 2007, so it would be vitally important to update this pipeline map and also establish the precise function of each of them, since it is unknown up to now. . To this must be added an indefinite number of pipes that have not been detected by local administrations and that, therefore, do not appear in the official figures and records.