Conservationists on the popular Spanish tourist island of Ibiza have shared footage of a broken underwater pipe leaking raw sewage into the sea.
The video of the pipe, part of the Can Bossa sewage treatment plant on the Spanish Balearic island, shows several holes from which faecal matter appears to be leaking.
The area is near the Las Salinas Natural Park, an ecosystem between Ibiza and the island of Formentera, which has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Environmental activists from Gent de Ponent and the Alliance for Water in Ibiza and Formentera said the pipe, which lies at a depth of 30 metres (98 feet), just 14 kilometres (8.6 miles) from the coast of Ibiza, had “clearly deteriorated”.
The Can Bossa plant is supposed to purify sewage before it is deposited out at sea but divers reported the presence of large quantities of solids, as well as plastic waste.
A spokesman for the ecologists said: “This shows that the plant has been depositing untreated sewage into the sea.”
They also pointed to the absence of underwater meadows of seagrass which would be expected to be seen in a healthy ecosystem, as well as the presence of large quantities of green and red algae, and organic matter on the seabed.
Chemical analysis revealed high levels of pollution. Organic matter measured 57.14 milligrammes per litre, well in excess of the permitted 35.
Nitrogen levels of 25 milligrammes per litre were also above regulation levels of 15. The faecal bacteria, Escherichia Coli, was also present at
levels of 241,960 CFU/l (colony forming unit), compared to the official 100,000 CFU/l.
Ecologists accepted the pollution did not pose an immediate threat to human health, given the distance from the shore, but argued it showed a high degree of complacency from the authorities.
They have long called for the renovation of the Can Bossa treatment plant, as well as those located at Santa Eulalia, and Formentera, and for the introduction of a tertiary system for micro-biological disinfection.
But Joanna Maria Garau, Director General for Water Resources on Ibiza, said they were aware of the leak and were carrying out repairs. She insisted: “The Can Bossa plant is working perfectly.”
But Manu Felix, biologist and member of the Alliance for Water in Ibiza and Formentera, said: “If the treatment plants work correctly why is the sea so full of organic waste?”