Starting now, several communities in the Canton of Nicoya will have to have patience as water rationing will be the order of the day since this past rainy season left a 25% shortage of water, according to Water and Sewer (AyA—Acueductos y Alcantarillados).
Farmers and ranchers have been those most affected. Angel Mena, a farmer in Nicoya, told VON that he and other neighboring farmers lost rice and beans. "It went very bad for us. The winter was bad; the lack of rain left us with crop losses. The problem is that now we're going to suffer with potable water since the wells have low levels of water," he expressed with great concern.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG—Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería) has already issued a precautionary alert in Guanacaste in anticipation of a terrible reduction in the agricultural sector caused by El Niño for two years in a row. The El Niño phenomenon caused a decrease of up to 60% in rainfall this year.
Tania Lopez Lee, vice minister of MAG, said she "doesn't even want to imagine" what would result from a drought like the one that might occur this year. "Since we suspected, because of the "Indian summer" in June, we started monitoring until this was declared a "El Niño" year. Due to this, we have been working, as MAG always does, on trying to give assistance as well as information to producers so they prepare, for example, with bales of hay, storing grains in silos and water prevention," Lopez assured.
Coastal zones and areas of Guanacaste are the most critical since 95% of the water supplies come from subterranean waters. For the moment, AyA doesn't plan on rationing water to face the shortages, but in January they will initiate a campaign to encourage people to conserve water.
Even before rainy season ended, several communities showed problems with water rationing. In the case of Cuesta Grande, Terciopelo and Maquenco, AyA built them a well and piping system, and this project alleviated one problem, but the happiness didn't last long since the well dried up and the families continue with the problem. Some have had to resort to homemade wells.
"The situation is getting worse all the time. On top of this, we had a very bad winter that didn't leave us with much water in the rivers. The problem will be from February on," said Wilmar Jimenez, who lives in Cuesta Grande.
In Nosara, the volunteer firefighters are already holding discussions with the ASADAs (water boards) of Esperanza, Garza and Nosara to guarantee water in the summer.
"We hope that this winter doesn't affect the availability of water. With Nosara we already have the liquid guaranteed in case fires happen," explained Bryan Bombard, chief of the Nosara firefighters.
Guillermo Hernandez Mendoza, administrator of the ASADA for the American Project in Nosara, indicated that during dry season they always experience a water supply shortage. The ASADA is currently carrying out a technical study to find out the capacity of the aqueduct supply.
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