Marcos Jimenez, mayor of Nicoya
“I promise not to close the dump as long as there are efforts to improve it,” said Gabriel Sotelo González, inspector from the Nicoya Ministry of Health during a meeting on May 18th at Hotel L’acqua Viva.
Sotelo González added that the actions that the Ministry of Health demands from the Municipality of Nicoya and Nosara community associations "should be in concrete and rod, not only paperwork," he said.
He said the Ministry of Health agrees to grant one to two months suspension for the closure.
The Nosara Dump received a closure order the Ministry for “not meeting the conditions required to operate” and “for putting the public health at risk.” The closure action was supposed to be taken on May 10, 2011.
The meeting on Wednesday, May 18, was attended by members of the Nosara Civic Association, Nosara Development Association, Chamber of Tourism and Red Cross, all representing the Nosara community, and the Municipality of Nicoya, Nicoya Ministry of Health and the company Microsan, which is responsible for the garbage collection.
Elizabeth Fernández, the municipality’s environmental engineer
Municipality Pays, Community Works
In order to prevent the closure of the dump, Marcos Jimenez, mayor of Nicoya, with the City's Environmental Engineer, Elizabeth Hernandez, presented a proposal to create a Joint Economic Society, where the municipality would be responsible for collecting the garbage collection tax, and a new community association in Nosara would ensure that the service is provided.
The funds raised by the municipality will be delivered to this new partnership in order to cover their expenses. The proposal was unanimously accepted by those present at the meeting.
Some of the attendees at the meeting recommended that Microsan should continue to provide the trash collection service, but that has not been determined.
The proposal would comply with the Law on Integrated Waste Management, which states that "the municipalities will be responsible for the management of all the waste generated within their district."
Mayor Jimenez said that under the proposal, residents of Nosara won’t be able to avoid paying for the trash collection service, like many currently do, according to the owner of Microsan, Arnulfo Espinozo, who said, "the resources we generate are not enough to us to continue the service."
With the municipality of Nicoya in charge of collecting revenues, it should ensure that all property owners pay their share. “If the resident doesn’t pay, she or he will be warned twice and later the case will be passed to the court”, continued Jiminez, and if “the resident refuses to pay the court fee, the municipality will have right to take over the property.”
However, creating the Joint Economic Society project will take at least several months, while the Ministry of Health has requested more immediate actions to improve sanitation. At the meeting, the Nosara representatives insisted that the current dump needs new trenches, and that the municipality is responsible for paying for the heavy equipment necessary.
The mayor responded that, even with the city’s current deficit of 214 million colones, as well as a “cumbersome administrative process” to hire a contractor with a bulldozer to dig new trenches in the landfill, they will find a way to do it.
But Mayor Marcos Jimenez warned that "the budget presented, to hire the machinery, shouldn’t be too high," indicating that the city is belt tightening and closely monitoring each of its expenses. He guaranteed that next year "we will invest some resources in Nosara.”
Elizabeth Fernández, the municipality’s environmental engineer, stated that it is important to understand how much more trash the dump can receive. Also, she said it needs to be considered if it is cheaper to have a technical closure of the existing dump while opening a new landfill, or continue spending money on improvements within the current disposal site.
Fernández insisted that any new landfill must come with a recycling center and education to the community to learn to separate all organic waste as well as plastics, aluminum and glass from other waste that cannot be recycled. She also pointed out that the Ministry of Health must review and direct all actions and decisions made by the municipality as well as by the community.
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