At least 35 beach towns in Costa Rica have got the Bandera Azul award for their compliance with national environmental standards. The award, which comprises a blue flag, is presented on the basis of an assessment done during the annual evaluation programme of the government. The programme, evolved five years ago, monitors cleanliness of ocean and drinking water, waste disposal, environmental education efforts and security. The award system has presented a challenge for beach towns to clean up their environment. Towns scoring 90 per cent or above are awarded the flag. A committee, formed under the programme, inspects the beach quarterly for solid waste disposal and twice a month for water quality. "The towns' efforts are slowly improving the quality of life for the visitors and residents," said Darner Mora, the executive director of the programme.
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