Thursday, April 19, 2007

Agua

Water. We're at the height of the dry season, just before the rains. Though we did receive rain on a couple of days and nights very early in the month - highly unusual for that time of year for the amount of rain that fell. It's incredibly hot right now - 40 degrees Celcius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) mid-day. I love it!!

The first rains of the winter (invierno), or wet season, here in Guanacaste usually begin between now and 1 May. Things green up in about 2 weeks. The transformation is rapid and mind-blowing. The landscape turns from dry brown to verdent green, seemingly, overnight. The transformation is especially obvious on the mountain and hillsides which haven't seen water since December of last year. It's a bit different in the green valley where I live, over the aquifer. The trees here are able to tap into it and remain green year-round. Two worlds, existing side by side.

But how long the aquifer will be around remains a question here in Playa Hermosa. Uncontrolled development, illegal wells and a leaky AyA (Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados - the water company) distribution system have been taking their toll.
The ICT (Instituto Costarricence de Turismo - Costa Rican Tourism Institute) recently directed AyA to cut water to Playa Hermosa in order to accommodate the water demand of resorts around the Polo Touristico (the Papagayo Development Project that encompasses all of Bahia Culebra). They pulled rank. That left a lot of people in new million-dollar homes without water. Imagine spending all of that money and not being able to take a shower, flush your toilet or - God forbid - fill your swimming pool! The proverbial shit hit the fan, the gringo community got organized and petitioned the CR Supreme Court with tico signatures (gringos can't vote but are entitled to water; ticoc can vote and are also entitled to water). A mandate was passed directing AyA to deliver water to every resident of Playa Hermosa. Simultaneously, several scandals ensued involving AyA officials and heads finally began to roll. Beaureaucrats were reassigned to different positions and a new AyA director was appointed in Liberia.

Then a new project was announced for delivery of water, not only to Playa Hermosa, but to Playas del Coco and Playa Ocotal - the Coco Water Project. The water will be brought in from the large Sardinal aquifer. Though the money for the project is supposedly in escrow, no one is holding their breath.

In the mean time, AyA hand delivered notices to all residents of Playa Hermosa stating the following:

"The AyA would like to inform you, that as a result of the high temperatures lately, and the accelerated rate of construction in Playa Hermosa, the demand for potable water has now surpassed the supply."

"Given this situation, we have implemented a WATER RATIONING PROGRAM, in order to assure that all of our clients will have potable water every day, although we cannot ensure a continuous, 24 hour supply."

They then went on to describe three water rationing zones in Playa Hermosa and the times at which residents could expect full water pressure.

I'm on a well that draws on the same aquifer that AyA currently uses to supply a portion of the water in Playa Hermosa. I am worried that the aquifer will not be able to replenish itself and will be depleated to a point where the salt water from the ocean will begin to make its way into the aquifer - an environmental disaster. The Coco Water Project will alleviate the draw on the Hermosa aquifer. The Coco Water Project needs to happen now! I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It's the only thing I can do.

Pura agua! Pura vida!

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