The Costa Rica Aqueduct and Sewer Institute (AyA) will take control of an illegal water well and two rural aqueducts in the coastal community of Marbella in Santa Cruz after The Voice of Guanacaste reported the irregular conditions under which water was being managed in the community.
The aqueducts administered by the Marbella and Posada del Sol water associations and the well that supplies water to the Jardines del Sol and Lomas del Sol condominiums are what AyA will take over.
AyA legal advisor Rodolfo Lizano confirmed this and said that the associations’ and the condominiums’ wells will be registered under AyA’s name with the Environment Ministry’s (Minae) water office.
“We can’t close them and leave homes without water, but we can take them over,” the lawyer said.
At Lomas del Sol, some condominiums like this one have tanks for water storage.
Marbella is a coastal town of less than 300 people located 24 kilometers from Nosara and 46 kilometers from Tamarindo. It’s a town with a reality very similar to that of other beach towns in Guanacaste. They don’t know how much water they have nor how long it will last.
The Marbella water association’s distribution network currently has defects and low hydric capacity at the wells. That’s the main reason that AyA plans to take over, despite the fact that the water association’s board of directors is against the decision.
The residents in the community were also worried because the Posada del Sol water association’s president was the owner of several real estate developments in the zone and it was also located just a few meters away from the original aqueduct.
The Voice of Guanacaste reported this in October 2017 when it also reported that Jardines del Sol and Lomas del Sol used a well that was illegally opened to supply 23 customers in the urban development, despite two requests from the Environment Ministry’s water office to close it.
During a visit in March of this year, The Voice of Guanacaste discovered that, inside the Lomas del Sol urban development, there are 11 condominiums built, some of which have their own pool and water storage tanks with a large pool area for the members of the residential complex.
The administrator of Jardines del Sol and Lomas del Sol, Marlon Ortiz, said that they have never had problems with water, not even in the months of March and April, which are the driest months of the year and when there are usually problems with water supply in other coastal zones of Santa Cruz.
Having illegal wells affects all the residents of a community because all the water comes from the same aquifer and it is impossible to know how much water is really being used.
AyA’s department of rural aqueduct management requested that Antonio Marvez, the developer of Jardines del Sol and Lomas Del Sol, conduct a pump test to determine the quality and quantity of water available in the well.
The administrator of the complex, Marlon Ortiz, told this newspaper that they will conduct this test at the end of March, but he didn’t specify which date. The institute made this request on January 4.
Ortiz said that he agrees with AyA taking control of the well and the aqueduct that supplies the two condominiums in order to resolve its legal standing.
Water Associations For and Against
Pablo Vargas, member of the Marbella water association, said that he is against AyA administering the aqueduct and said that the current administration has organized the bills and invoices that it has pending.
“It would be chaotic because the interests of AyA are not the interests of the town of Marbella,” Vargas said.
The administrator of the Marbella water association Tony Gutierrez Muñoz agrees. He favors AyA’s intervention to bring order to water management, but not for them to take control of the water association.
Vargas worries that, with the intervention of AyA, the work that the current board of directors is doing will be interrupted, such as supplying water to the community of Manzanillo, which is near Marbella.
Yolanda Acuña, one of the members of the AyA board of directors, said that the institution is committed to bringing water to Manzanillo, but she didn’t specify an exact date.
This newspaper contacted the president of the Marbella water association, but he didn’t answer multiple calls to his cell phone.
The attorney for the Posada del Sol water association, Giselle León, said that she is in favor of AyA taking over the administration of water for the whole community because, according to her, it will help organize water management.
“AyA has to intervene so Marbella can be a sustainable development model,” León said.
AyA’s Rodolfo Lizano said that transferring control of the Marbella wells and aqueducts could take a month and that the institution is considering opening an office in Marbella.
Rodolfo Lizano from AyA explained that once AyA takes control of the illegal well that supplies water to Jardines and Lomas del Sol, they will verify that the water is used for human consumption and not to fill swimming pools.
“For filling swimming pools, no. The water is for human consumption,” Lizano said.
Lizano said that, in conjunction with Minae, they will regulate “little by little” the 150 illegal water wells that the water office found last year. For the remaining cases, they will follow a process similar to that of Marbella.