In the historic city of Toledo, Spain, a serious environmental problem is becoming apparent. The River Tagus, which has been struggling with pollution from wastewater from Madrid for decades, is facing a new crisis.
Thousands of toallitas (wet wipes) and sanitary pads have appeared in an area ironically called “Senda Ecológica” (Ecological Path), located between the Alcántara and San Martín bridges.
Last week’s heavy rainfall has led to an overload of the sewage system in Toledo. As a result, household waste such as wipes and sanitary pads have ended up in the river. Alejandro Cano, spokesman for the Plataforma de Toledo en Defensa del Tajo, explains: “This walking route serves as a breeding ground for many bird species. Now, it is covered with a thick layer of wipes, sanitary pads, paper, plastic, and various fibres.”
Lack of response from authorities
The problem has been reported to various authorities, including the following;
- Toledo city council
- SEPRONA (the nature protection service of the Guardia Civil)
- Tajo River Basin Confederation
- The environmental agency of Castilla-La Mancha
However, only SEPRONA and the environmental agents have shown interest in the case. The Guardia Civil has passed the problem on to the national police, under the pretext that it is an administrative issue and not a criminal offense. The national police, in turn, advised contacting the local police patrol specialised in environmental issues.
Call for greater public awareness
The Platform Toledo en Defensa del Tajo is calling on citizens to be more conscious about their waste disposal. Alejandro Cano emphasises: “The toilet is not a place to dispose of paper or other fibrous materials such as wipes, or light materials like pieces of plastic bags or cotton swabs. Even if the packaging indicates that they are biodegradable. These practices cause enormous problems and costly damage to sewers and purification plants, which ultimately also affect the costs of sewage and purification that we all pay.”