The Costa Rican Water and Sewage Institute (AyA) took control of water wells that were managed by the Posada del Sol and Marbella water associations in February after a series of irregularities found by the Institute and many reports by The Voice of Guanacaste since 2017.
In this interview, Chorotega Regional director Eliécer Robles explains how and when the billing system will change, the information they have about the wells and what will happen with the real estate developments in Marbella.
Is AyA going to annul the water permits that water associations irregularly issued to real estate developments?
With completed developments, it’s complicated because, in those cases, they were available (water permits) issued by the water association. Reversing and eliminating something that has already been granted is difficult. But it’s necessary to evaluate what develops from here on out.
We told the developer (de Jardines and Lomas del Sol), who already has their project underway, that we can’t provide water until there is a normalization of the project. They were told that they must perform all the improvements that the institute required and those upgrades must be turned over to AyA.
If someone wants to request water right now in order to build in Marbella, can they do it?
Right now, we are doing a hydrology study that will allow us to determine how much we can grow the system. When we have a clear idea of the water balance, we can evaluate projects.
Normal, vegetative growth (a person that requests a permit to build their house) shouldn’t have problems. We can attend to them now, immediately. In terms of projects, we still have to pin down some numbers. We may be able to evaluate large projects once we have the results (of the hydrology study).
Our intention is to safeguard water within reason considering the great potential in the area.
Can you summarize for us the actions that AyA is taking right now in Marbella?
When we received the system in mid-February, we started an education process. In June we will start issuing invoices. We have incorporated about 150 services (there were 145 from the Marbella water association and Posada del Sol had 67, so the work is advancing quickly).
We have done work on the system, interconnections, checked chlorination levels, which the association did differently, but we have protocols.
We rented a lot so we can have a trailer office. The trailers have been placed. We are requesting personnel and positions. We have one person, the plumber, who is there in the interim. If they need more support, we send personnel from Santa Cruz. We are waiting for the resources we need.
What is the current condition of the wells that AyA took over? Is there enough water for the community? Are there any salinated wells?
At the moment, a hydrology study is being done and the results are not in yet. The ideal outcome is to have a study and see what the water system’s capacity is. In the coming days, we are expecting reports (from residents) on the flavor of the water, and we are checking water sources to see if there is any salinization, but we don’t have official reports.
Will water cost more for the community?
It might increase, but very little. Above all, the issue is overseeing the invoices, and we have strict oversight. It’s part of what we are doing in the education process, telling people that, ‘this is what you have now. We have to attend to the equipment and see if anything is causing a leak so that what you are billed for is really what you consume, not because of a leak.’
Will previous water association presidents Jeffrey Allen and Miguel Gómez have any kind of control over the old associations?
No, right now the system is completely under AyA control.