The Municipality of Nicoya doesn’t foresee a quick solution to the water damming up at the entrance of Las Delicias, in Garza in the district of Nosara. The area floods every time it rains because a sewer drainage is blocked.
The community’s development association (ADI for the Spanish acronym) installed the sewer drainage in 2019 because rainwater wasn’t flowing properly and collected stagnant on the main street and in several houses in the area. With the sewer line, they directed the water to the edge of a vacant private property.
Now the lot has a new owner who started building there in December of 2021. The structures built cause the flow of water to become stagnant again and some neighboring houses to flood.
According to the version of the president of the association, Ofelia Obando, in 2019, the coordinator of the Road Management Technical Unit (UTGV for the Spanish acronym), Julio Lopez, informed them that the municipality didn’t have a budget to solve the problem, but he verbally authorized the ADI to do the work with their own resources.
Mr. Julio came here to Las Delicias and indicated to us that they had no budget to help us but that we could install the sewer there where we thought [it should be], which is where it is now, because those were the correct points,” she said.
Obando said that since then, Lopez knew the drainage would start on the right side of the street, would cross underneath the entire street and would let the water continue to flow to the lot.
The engineer told The Voice that he was unaware of ADI’s plans and that he did not authorize the construction of the sewer at that time either.
In our files, there’s no documentation that corroborates what ADI indicated about the authorization to place said sewer passage,” Lopez stated through an email.
He also reiterated that it’s not his unit’s responsibility to solve the problem because the sewer doesn’t follow “a natural water evacuation” (the water’s natural path doesn’t go in the direction that the sewer directs it). According to him, they would need permission from the current owner of the land to get involved with the pipe and extend the sewage system within the private property. This was also mentioned in a report issued in February of 2022.
Lopez sent a letter to the development association on Thursday, June 9, in which he told them that the municipality has already considered several options, including placing a new sewer or creating a drainage ditch on the sides of the street. However, he emphasized that the institution doesn’t have a budget for any of the options, so it isn’t possible to solve the problem immediately.
The engineer also reported that the municipality has already started a process to perform superficial maintenance on the street. In this way, they would temporarily take the stagnant water to a nearby stream. Lopez didn’t give an exact date for this solution.
The community leader, Ofelia Obando, affirmed that the community isn’t in agreement with this solution since they believe that it will continue to flood there. “We don’t see it as viable. There are also houses in the lower part [of the street], and with this solution, it would be flooding these families,” emphasized Obando.
Municipality Contradicts Itself
Ana Barrantes, the new owner of the lot where the water was directed, told The Voice that she didn’t know about the water pooling up when she installed the cement border, because according to her version, it doesn’t even appear in the municipality’s land registry plans. She also claimed that the previous owner never mentioned the situation to her.
We requested the property’s plans and the sewer did not appear there anywhere. I even have the building permits now and no one [in the municipality] mentioned this problem,” said the property owner.
The ADI’s president affirmed that the previous owner did know about the construction of the sewers since 2019 but she never authorized them to pass through her property.
In fact, in 2020, he personally asked the municipality to remove the sewer. But at that time, the UTGV stated that they couldn’t remove the structure since it was built for the public good of the community.
We asked him to sign a permit for the sewer to pass through his property, but he (the former owner) refused and appealed to the municipality. First they told him that it wasn’t possible (to remove the sewer) and now they say something else (that it’s not a public good),” complained Obando.
After the small wall was built, on January 10, 2022, the ADI sent a letter to the Municipality of Nicoya and the municipal council requesting that they mediate with Barrantes so that she would let the water pass through her land. Otherwise, the ADI members stated, the community would suffer floods in the rainy season.
Fifteen days later, the UTGV sent an inspector who contradicted the 2020 decision. The expert stated that it wasn’t possible to determine if there was a channel that would naturally carry the water to the property and, therefore, they couldn’t ask Barrantes to remove the structure. In the same report, he suggested doing a water study and looking for alternatives for the rainy season.
On February 2, 2022, engineer Julio Lopez notified the mayor’s office that according to the latest inspection, the municipality can’t do anything about the work until the property owners authorize it.
The UTGV has already done the study to find out what the natural drainage flow is, according to what Lopez explained to this medium. The unit concluded that the sewer should not pass through Barrantes’ land since the water doesn’t follow a natural current and is only passing through there due to the sewer installed by the ADI.
Lopez reiterated that the municipality doesn’t have the resources to change the route of the pipes so the water will continue pooling up at the community’s entrance every time it rains.
Both Barrantes and the ADI members have continued to write to the engineer to receive alternatives to the problem.
I wrote to the municipality several times because they also make dengue breeding grounds here in the dry season. They said that since it wasn’t them (who put the sewer in place), they couldn’t do more,” the property owner said.
Engineer Lopez stated that his department has no records of any correspondence sent by Barrantes. However, this medium has a copy of an email that the property owner sent in November of 2021. In the email, she denounced the situation of waters becoming stagnant in front of her land and explained how the sewer has affected her property.
Barrantes explained that she is willing to work with her neighbors to all work together to create a sewage system that succeeds in directing the water to a nearby river that’s outside of her property. However, she needs responses from the authorities to proceed.
The Voice of Guanacaste also tried to talk with Mayor Carlos Armando Martinez about a solution for the community. However, by the deadline for this article, we hadn’t gotten a response to the messages sent to his phone.