The San Francisco Chronicle reported a few days ago that in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, the Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas, a man-made lake, was experiencing a horrendous fish die-off. Raw sewage and an overabundance of trash were blamed for this, but as far as Renato and I knew, the die-off occurred every year when we lived in a house across from the lake decades ago. Lack of oxygen was faulted, but whatever the cause, the overwhelming stink haunted our days and nights until the pitiful belly-up victims were hauled away. We remembered that view fondly.
All the residents along Avenida Epitacio Pessoa considered the annual olfactory punishment a reasonable tradeoff for the view of Corcovado, the Christ on a Cross on its mountaintop beyond the lake, the walking paths around the lake, and the vicinity of Ipanema Beach a few blocks behind us.
But the famed beach of Copacabana is now in crisis with the same fish die-off and tons of sludge and sewage, as well as all the waterfronts up to Guanabara Bay on the city’s opposite side. Anyone who dares to dip a toe there is courting serious disease. The Olympic regatta is being planned in those waters in 2016. How are they going to manage that?