The awarding of water sources, the rates, the contamination of the water tables and the availability of the precious liquid, are just a few of the water-related issues that have tormented the residents of Tamarindo.
This beach town has three water boards but one of them, Beko, an Administration Board of the Rural Aqueduct that was in charge of supplying water to the Playa Langosta area, is no longer working. In February, 2009, the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (the former AyA, now known as the ICAA) took control of its management, declining to renew their concession.
Beko’s legal representative, Claudio Cerdas, explained: “Fifteen years ago we started as a small business, since the ICAA had no interest in managing Tamarindo’s aqueduct, but later we requested the concession in order to follow the law, and it was granted to us. We have always carried out the periodic water quality controls and we have fulfilled all the established requisites.”
Marcial García López is the manager of another ASADA, The Playa Tamarindo’s Community Aqueduct, which is currently in charge of the water supply for the communities of Playa Tamarindo, El Llanito, Refundores and Barco Quebrado. We asked his opinion regarding the AyA’s administration of the ex-Beko aqueduct and he explained: “We get many complaints from AyA’s clients, because they are not charging the national rates that have been assigned for the rural water boards and, in addition, there are differences if it is the dry or the rainy season. We have sued the AyA in the Court for Contentious Administrative Proceedings since they have not allowed us to manage the private aqueduct system, which already has 200 clients. We are certainly not going to allow them to intervene here, as they have been threatening to do since 2007, just because the AyA wants to control everything”. “We have been unable to develop an adequate sewer system, or a water treatment plant, because they have not granted us the permits. They did not give us their approval to expand the aqueduct, although it is over 30 years old. In addition, they rejected our rate study. We organize cleaning campaigns, we protect the basins and conduct periodic studies,” added Marcial García, as he concluded “at this time Beko has also sued the AyA and vice versa”.
On the other hand, German Araya, the ICAA’s (AyA) Regional Director for the Guanacaste region, said that “Beko’s concession was not renewed due to ruling number 336-09 and 337-09, by the Supreme Court and the Court for Contentious Administrative Proceedings,” although he was unable to explain the reasons behind this resolution. When asked to list the improvements done by the AyA during the past year, he stated “we found that the system had exceeded its capacity, which occurs when the supply and demand are no longer in balance, thereby risking the service’s continuity”, and that “one of the advantages of the AyA is that it is a non-profit, autonomous institution, whose service costs correspond to the fees authorized by the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos (ARESEP)”. In regards to the residual water issues, he explained, “We have visited possible sites for the construction of pumping stations for residual waters and now we have a property, which was donated by the Tamarindo Diriá, for the construction of the water treatment plant.” In regards to their relationship with the Tamarindo ASADA, Araya stated that it is a good one.
This is the situation that prevails in an area that needs urgent attention, not only to avoid running out of water but to continue growing in a sustainable manner.