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Rio official: Water pollution targets won’t be met

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) ― Rio de Janeiro’s environment secretary has acknowledged that pledges to drastically reduce the amount of pollution that flows into Guanabara Bay before the 2016 Olympics will not be met.

In a letter obtained Saturday by the Associated Press, Carlos Francisco Portinho said the construction of two new sewage treatment facilities would lead to a 50 percent reduction in the levels of pollution flowing into the bay.

Olympic sailing events are to be held in the Guanabara Bay, and officials had previously said pollutants flowing into the waterway would be reduced by 80 percent by the games. The May 7 letter was addressed to Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and requested the release of $70 million to build two new facilities to filter raw sewage and garbage out of two area rivers.

A spokeswoman for Rio’s state environment agency confirmed the authenticity of the letter.