The Costa Rican Tourism Board (in Spanish, ICT) will invest only 10.2% of the income it receives in concessions in the Papagayo Peninsula in the local community.
Between 2012 and 2016 the ICT received $8 million in concessions for the Gulf of Papagayo Tourism Project, of which $773 thousands are earmarked for aqueducts, well drilling, and the purchase of a water tank for the community of Papagayo.
Where are the other $6.7 million? According to Henry Wong Carranza, executive director of the Gulf of Papagayo Tourism Project, money that is not spent in the community goes into the Tourism Development Fund (in Spanish, Fondetur), but can only be used for projects that benefit Papagayo.
Among the projects in which the ICT has invested, there is the purchase of a water tank for the community of El Duende II, the drilling of two test wells in the Las Trancas aquifer, and the purchase of electromechanical controls for the Playa Hermosa aquifer. (See sidebar, ICT Investments)
Investment in Aqueducts
Roberto Arce, council director of the ICT, recognizes that few resources have been used during the last six years.
However, he indicated that in 2017 the ICT has budgeted for investing part of Fondetur’s surplus in the Las Trancas aqueduct. This project will carry water to communities and tourism developments in Papagayo.
The ICT assures that it will invest more than $3.6 million in this aqueduct. There is no clear investment plan for the remaining $3.1 million.
What percentage of water generated by Las Trancas will go to communities and to tourism projects? According to Arce, this aqueduct’s capacity will be 250 liters per second, of which 170 liters will to to local residents and communities and the remaining 80 liters will go to hotels and tourism developments.
“The Las Trancas aquifer borders Papagayo, the Tempisque River, and part of the area near the Papagayo project. This is a key project because Papagayo needs to invest in their water resources,” said Arce.
Bahía Requests Water
The lack of water has affected both hotel construction and local communities. One of those communities is Bahía, located just minutes from the large hotel developments in Papagayo.
Marta Iris Baltodano lives there, and she alleges that they have had to extract water from a well for the past two years in order to bring water to their home.
“The water the AyA gave us only came in the morning; in the afternoon and evening, no,” said Baltodano.
Some 20 families live in this community and, according to Baltodano, there are others like it that have the same problem.
In theory, their situation should be resolved with the ICT’s investment in Las Trancas. At least that’s what she hopes.