Flooding. Dengue. Rot. The water that gushes from a natural spring next to Pelican Pools passes under the road and down the hill, emerging as small rivulets that combine as they approach the beach road. The two main quebradas collect rainfall that mix with spring water to converge under the beach road, flowing across the maritime zone to Baker’s Beach and out to sea.
The problem with this natural landscape is that both recent and earlier efforts to train water away from valuable real estate have not worked and water gathers in places unintended by the topography and nature creating inundations and fetid pools, causing a major health risk, flash flooding and erosion, impacting more than a dozen home sites and businesses.
Costa Rican laws address these problems with intelligent land use and water regulation. Trees beyond a certain size may not be cut without permit; incursions on adjacent properties risk liens and confiscation; adding and removing material to alter watercourses are not permitted.
In June, the Nosara Civic Association, Asosacion de Desarrollo Integral de Nosara (ADIN), Nicoya Mayor Marco Jimenez and several of his department heads came together in both Nosara and again in Nicoya to discuss the protection of Playas de Nosara lands. The consensus, now detailed in a letter intended for MINAE Minister Dr. René Castro and Costa Rica’s Premiere Vice President Dr. Alfio Piva Mesén, is to find new and better ways to enforce Costa’s Rica’s environmental laws, keep illegal development out of the 200-meter maritime zone extending south to Playas Guiones and exact penalties against bad actors who either ignore the law or bribe officials to look the other way.
As part of the Ostional National Wildlife Reserve, Playas Guiones, Pelada and Nosara combine as one of the premiere sustainable destination markets in Costa Rica. We practice what the Costa Rican government has earned as one of the top five countries in the world measured by the Environmental Performance Index.
Costa Rica was cited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2010 as one of the countries that have attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels and, in 2011, was highlighted by UNDP for being a good performer and the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability.
But these laws and pronouncements by elected officials are meaningless unless they are enforced. Without MINAE at the table, there is very little that NCA, ADIN or the Canton (50 km away) can do to police our coastal community with a federal presence or delegated authority to compel compliance.
To expand job opportunities, manage growth and improve the quality of life in our neighbourhoods, we need federal cooperation from MINAE, the Costa Rican Tourism Board and local leadership to get on the same page, practicing what they preach to the world. The time is now. The laws and mission are clear. Leaders seeking recognition from voters are now on the hustings in Guanacaste. Citizens, residents and visitors all have a stake in protecting our environment and livelihoods. Perhaps Dr. Castro, MINAE’s minister, will soon hear our call. Public awareness of the problems is essential but making noise in San Jose will also help.