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Northern Region, Portugal

Surfrider is taking action to fight for clean water: extremely poor water quality is a recurring problem in the area of Matosinhos, Azurara and Vila Nova de Gaia, in northern Portugal. Organic, inorganic and microbiological pollution has already been sampled, especially with high levels of Escherichia coli.

Surfrider Foundation Porto needs your help for ocean users to safely enjoy the beaches in the North of Portugal. The pollution occuring requires rapid action, especially the integrated planning and management of water resources.


The origin of pollution comes from various sources: wastewater treatment plants, many rivers contribute to the degradation of water quality due to the release of domestic sewage, livestock, and industrial substance. This has led to a deterioration of the quality of surface water in rivers and streams leading to the coast.

To fight this water pollution, Surfrider Porto has decided to launch the “Surf and Clean Water” initiative which is a crowdfunding campaign in which 100% of the amount collected goes to the realization of the project. Their objective is to highlight the pollution of water and the sources of pollution. The project consists of a collection of water samples to analyze its components, in the areas of Matosinhos, Azurara and Vila Nova de Gaia, near areas where there are usually surfers and beachgoers. In order to achieve comparable results, the goal is to ensure the same sampling conditions with respect to depth (as close as possible to the surfer/user’s water intake), tide and location.

The collections will last 52 weeks after the end of the crowdfunding campaign, covering the annual four seasons. Our effort is to ensure that the samples will be made on the same day of the week. The samples are analyzed by an independent laboratory accredited by IPAC – Portuguese Accreditation Institute and deemed appropriate by the ERSAR – Regulatory Authority for Water and Waste.

During their third sampling visiting the Villa do Conde on the beach of Azurara. The results were the worst recorded this year, rated as “bad” and “very bad” (on a scale where water quality can be “excellent”, “good”, “acceptable” or “bad”).


Our Coastal Defenders come from our Porto chapter led by Ricardo, who launched a water quality measurement program twice a month, collecting concrete and independent data in order to put pressure on the authorities. local authorities (city, government, etc.) to find sources of pollution and take measures to protect the environment and surfers, in dialogue and transparency.


The quality of bathing water is conditioned and defined by its environment. The beaches of Porto and Matosinhos are exposed to pollution sources of different kinds, which are distinguished by the way they affect the water quality.

Water pollution is also harmful to the economy of these areas, in fact, water sports are increasingly popular, in some cases the foundation of tourism and hospitality. Surfrider Foundation Europe states that the health and safety of this group of people (surfers or other users, such as swimmers) must be guaranteed.

For example, the practice of swimming and other wave sports were discouraged from November to March 2016 because the local wastewater treatment plant was undergoing major works (for secondary treatment).


A first alert has been issued by the Municipal Council which warned all surfing schools, associations etc.


Our objective is to highlight the pollution of water (source, nature, and quantity) and thus force local and regional authorities to find solutions to the source of pollution.