Following a major sewage leak, swimming conditions at the Nauthólsvík geothermal beach are being closely monitored, says Óttar Hrafnkelsson, director of the Ylströnd bathing facilities, in an interview with RÚV.
Last week, it came to light that raw sewage was being pumped into the ocean at Faxaskjól on the west side of Reykjavík, and had been for ten days previous. This obviously raised concerns that the beach, a popular place for sea swimming, had been contaminated. However, Óttar emphasizes that just like the Health and Safety Department, Ylströnd facility staff also take regular environmental samples. And so far, it has not been necessary to close the beach.
“Sometimes it’s assumed that if sewage pipes fail, Nauthólsvík fills with excrement. But it’s not like that,” he insists, recalling a previous incident when there was trouble with a sewage pump in Kópavogur, just across the bay from Nauthólsvík. “That had no effect on the quality of the bathing water. The sea cleans itself very quickly and easily.”
Despite the fact that beach attendance has almost certainly been negatively affected by news of the sewage leaks, Óttar agrees that it’s important for people to be aware of situations like this so that they can make informed decisions about whether or not to swim.