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Nimboyores Aquifer: Santa Cruz’s Gamble Against Water Shortage on the Coast

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The cost to drill several wells and install several kilometers of pipes on new land would be approximately $6.5 million.

The canton of Santa Cruz is going through times of uncertainty and anxiety in light of the water shortage plaguing mainly the coast. The Huacas-Tamarindo aquifer, which provides water to the districts of Tamarindo, Cabo Velas and Tempate, is over-exploited and no longer has the capacity to supply more consumers.

Facing a scenario that is unbelievable for the population of Santa Cruz and the economy of the canton, municipal council members are betting on the exploitation of the Nimboyores aquifer, located in the community of Lorena in the northeastern part of the canton.

According to council member Maria Rosa Angulo, coordinator of the water commission, the only short-term solution they have for now is to use water from Nimboyores, so the council has already sent a motion to the presidential house requesting intervention in accelerating the process .

“The Nimboyores project needed to have been done yesterday; in other words, it is urgent. This is the only solution we have, but institutional decisions are what is holding it up,” Angulo commented.

Does the Aquifer Have Capacity?

According to Carlos Romero, director of research and water management for the National Service of Groundwater, Irrigation and Drainage (SENARA- Servicio Nacional de Aguas Subterraneas, Riego y Avenamiento), the aquifer has all of the technical studies that endorse the use.

According to data from Senara, Nimboyores can produce up to 400 liters of water per second. However, they would allow consumption of 188 liters per second, to avoid over-exploitation. One liter per second can supply between 20-30 families.

“ For many years, we have talked about the need to use the Nimboyores aquifer for the problem that they have at this time. This issue was negotiated in 2005 with the minister of environment, the president of AyA (the water and sewer institute), the manager of Senara, the mayor and the communities, and it was agreed that the aqueduct be built to meet the demand of the ASADAS and of the productive sector,” Romero said.

Romero explained that this aquifer could supply the communities from Tamarindo to Brasilito. However, guidelines are needed to execute it.

What is Needed to Exploit the Aquifer?

In the year 2000, the Reserva Conchal real estate project invested $8 million in building a well and a pump station as well as installing pipes. However, the communities of Lorena, Huacas, El Llano, La Garita and Basilito were opposed and protested against Reserva Conchal. The project was halted when they had installed 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) of pipeline, made four wells and the pump station.

Web Reserva Conchal.

Due to the opposition, MINAE (Ministry of Environment), SENARA and AyA reached an agreement that of the 188 liters per second that can be used, 60 liters would be used by Reserva Conchal and the rest would be for the ASADAs (rural water boards) and AyA, so part of that water is already being used.

According to the executive president of AyA, Yamileth Astorga, although Reserva Conchal built the well and invested in the infrastructure, the water concession is held by AyA, so they are now working on a joint management plan with the communities and public institutions to see how a new aqueduct will be developed that will distribute water to the different coastal towns.

“We believe that the water can reach many communities, but that is a definition that we are discussing. At this time, we are in a joint construction project... I hope that this project will soon come about, but a participatory process takes time. Something important is that we as AyA are willing to build the project and provide the money,” Astorga said.

According to the executive summary of the Nimboyores Aqueduct, found on the website www.aya.go.cr, in order for the water to reach the communities of Potrero, Tamarindo, Flamingo, Brasilito and Playa Grande, it is necessary to drill several wells and install several kilometers of pipes on new land. This phase would cost approximately $6.5 million.

For his part, Jorge Jimenez, member of the Tamarindo Chamber of Commerce and manager of the Barcelo Langosta Beach Hotel, said that other wells exist that could be temporary solutions, but they are not executed.

“They always tell us yes, but this story has been going on for years. There are many solutions in Tamarindo with some other wells, but nothing happens. They don’t have the nerve to tell us what will happen with Nimboyores, but it will take a long time for that water to get here,” Jimenez said.

The manager said that on many occasions, the Chamber of Commerce has manifested its economic and legal cooperation for the necessary paperwork. “We have always been available to help with whatever [AyA] needed,” he said. 

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