New sanitation project aims to clean sewage out of Olympic waters

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro officials on Tuesday unveiled a new sanitation project that aims to eliminate the stain of raw sewage defiling the waters of Rio de Janeiro's Gloria Marina, where the 2016 Olympic sailing events are to be held.

Under the agreement, Rio's state government is building a 1-kilometer- (0.62-mile-) long pipeline in the city's Flamengo neighborhood to stem the flow of raw sewage into the marina. The $6.2 million project will connect area rainwater collectors with a sewage treatment center in the Ipanema Beach area.

More than half of the sewage in this city of 12 million goes untreated, meaning that collected rainwater is often contaminated with raw sewage. More than 10,000 liters of raw sewage flows each second into most of Rio's waterways, from the massive Guanabara Bay, where the Gloria Marina is located, to its beaches and lagoons.

In Rio's Olympic bid, officials promised that a major cleanup of waterways here would be among lasting legacies of the 2016 Summer Games but they have repeatedly come under fire for the sluggish progress of the cleanup. The bid pledged to slash the levels of sewage and garbage flowing into the Guanabara Bay by 80 percent in time for the Olympics by activating sewage treatment plants that had long gone under-used or were not in service at all, installing garbage-trapping nets at the mouths of rivers and deploying a fleet of trash-collecting boats.

The pipeline announced Tuesday was not among the projects initially promised but is a response to a very visible — and stinky — problem that's been in the media spotlight of late. During an Olympic sailing test event last month, athletes complained about the smell of sewage in the marina, where the boats were docked.

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