Urban development projects Jardines del Sol and Lomas del Sol in Marbella use an illegal well to provide themselves with water despite two requests from the Environment and Energy Ministry (Minae) to close them, according to documents obtained by The Voice of Guanacaste.
The most recent complaint was presented to the Santa Cruz prosecutor’s office by Minae on June 12, requesting that a judge order the developer of both projects to close the well. The developer is a Venezuelan national named Antonio Marvez Soto.
Why hasn’t he closed it? Marvez believes that while the well doesn’t have permits from Minae, the right to human consumption should prevail. There are 23 people who live in the condominiums that are connected to that well and who use its service.
The fight for water in Marbella has developers, residents and Marbella and Posada del Sol local water associations all squaring off against each other.
Marvez insists that when he purchased the property in 2012 the well had already been tapped, so he decided to use it to provide the condo building with water and start the process to transfer the well and the aqueduct to one of Marbella’s local water associations or the government-run water service AyA.
“We are in the process of getting approval on the technical study that we presented two months ago with corrections to the AyA regional office in Liberia,” he said.
“When the study is approved by AyA, the aqueduct and the lot where the well is will be donated to AyA or a local water association.”
This is only one of the 150 illegal wells that the Water Department found in the Santa Cruz coastal zone in April of this year. An illegal water well isn’t only a problem for Minae, it affects all the residents in the area because the water all comes from the same aquifer.
“Let’s put it this way. We are legally sucking water out of a glass through a straw (legal wells),” Minae’s water department director José Miguel Zeledón said several months ago. “If we stick more straws in it (illegal wells), obviously the glass won’t last long.”
Minae performed the investigation specifically to respond to reports and complaints from residents.
In fact, Marbella residents were the ones who approached The Voice of Guanacaste with concerns about the use of the well and the general administration of water in the community.
Marbella is a small coastal town with fewer than 300 people located 24 kilometers from Nosara and 46 kilometers from Playa Tamarindo, which is experiencing growing pressure because of real estate developments, according to residents. The question that everyone has is, Where will the water come from?
In the community there are two rural aqueducts that are run by the Marbella water association and the Posada del Sol water association. Their respective administrations have triggered criticism and mistrust among residents and developers, who are already squaring off against each other over water use.
Marbella neighbors are worried about the existence of the Posada del Sol water association. They insist that it’s located less than a kilometer from the original Marbella water association and there could be a conflict of interests within its board of directors since several members are also developers who carry significant weight in making decisions on water use.
The president is Jeffrey James Allen and the secretary is his wife, Carolina Rodríguez. Both are developers in the Marbella community. The administrator, Abundio López, also works for Allen and is a member of the board of directors, according to the association’s legal documents.
While it’s not illegal for this relationship to exist, residents worry that the community’s water supply is in the hands of real estate developers.
In the civil registry, Allen appears as president of 13 companies, nine of which contain the word Marbella in the name. Another one, Los Destinos del Ayer, is the legal parent company of Tiki Hut, located in front of Playa Frijolar, which bought a water connection in 2013 when Allen was president.
Rodriguez is also president of three companies that carry the name Marbella: Marbella Hills, Marbella Marbella Boutique and Ruta del Sol Marbella.
Ruta del Sol is also the name of one of the urban development projects that 60 Posada del Sol water association subscribers belong to, the majority foreigners.
Abundio López, the administrator, confirmed the information and answered The Voice of Guanacaste’s questions in Jeffrey Allen’s real estate office in Marbella.
He insisted that anyone can access a water connection if they are within the water association’s coverage area.
Allegations Come and Go
According to Abundio López, the Posada del Sol water association was created because of the incapacity of the original Marbella aqueduct, which is more than 40 years old and provides water to 148 people, the majority Costa Rican.
“The Marbella water association doesn’t have an office. It doesn’t own the water well nor the tanks,” said Marvez, the developer.
“We are being harmed and they are going to leave us without water,” Vázquez complained.
Marbella water association Vásquez said that the land where the Marbella aqueduct’s well and tanks are located belongs to Santa Cruz City Hall, but that there is no impediment for them to use it.