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Asada Playas de Nosara Water Board Must Cut $5000 per Month to Meet Crisis
• Workers Agree to Pay Cuts

By Fritz Elmendorf

The water company for the American Project (ASADA) has asked its six employees to take a pay cut 25% of their salary beginning in February. The move is part of the ASADA’s effort to manage with decreased revenues while seeking regulatory approval for a higher rate schedule and impact fees for new project water hookups.

According to Water Board President Rick Walker, the employees understand the financial pressure the system faces and have all agreed to the pay reductions, which will allow the company to maintain its standards of service through the current year.

The ASADA has also asked its landlord, the Nosara Civic Association, to forgive its rent during this period, and so the NCA, during its annual meeting on January 25th, decided to approve the request.

The ASADA is also considering cutting back its office hours and will not be replacing its longtime administrator, Linda Cox, who recently submitted her resignation. Asked why she resigned, Cox declined to comment.

In late 2009, the ASADA was told by the national water regulatory authority, AyA, that its rate, much higher than the prevailing approved rates in Costa Rica, was out of compliance with new rules governing local water rates. A steady 78% of customers have voluntarily continued to pay the rate that was in effect prior to the adoption of new rules by AyA, Walker said. The shortfall, along with the inability to charge the impact fees on new water meters, has created the budget squeeze and now the ASADA must reduce its expenses on an average of $5000 per month.

Currently the ASADA has hired an accounting firm, Jausas, to audit the ASADA as part of the process for seeking approval for the higher rates that were previously in effect locally. The audit includes a financial review as well as an examination of the system’s infrastructure, and is due in March.

Walker said it has also been necessary to hire a specialized law firm, Facio Abogados of San Jose, to navigate the regulatory process for the rate schedule change, and a second firm, Legal Corp. of San Jose, to seek approval of the impact fees.



The country-wide situation with water systems is also critical. According to a recent article in the Costa Rican newspaper El Financiero, water systems throughout Costa Rica face a crisis of funding, and 85% of needed improvements to the water infrastructure lack funding.

Jorge Garcia, National Chief of the “Fortalecimiento de ASADA” office (Strengthening of the ASADA) that “The AyA have done a national study of the different aqueducts and we have obtained valuable information. We expect that, within the next 6 months, we will present a new fee model to the ARESEP (the Regulating Authority of Public Utilities). This new model will have to respond to the real cost (of operating the Asadas).”

Also, Garcia mentioned that “It’s really hard to ‘make one suit’ for each ASADA. We want to make a suit that will fit all of them.”

In Nosara, as a way to compensate for the future improvements that the ASADA needs, “The ASADA will seek a two-tiered rate structure so that heavy users, which typically include property owners with pools, landscaping and gardeners, will pay a higher rate,” Walker said. He also said this is new legal territory for AyA, but pointed to the two-tiered rate structure for electricity as a precedent.

The annual membership meeting of the ASADA is Feb. 23 at 8 am at its office.

  A Unique Organization?
Because the American Project is populated with foreigners with expensive properties and high water demand, as well as high expectations for service and repairs, the ASADA contends it is unique and needs higher rates to meet these demands, according to Walker. He said the response time to service calls remains at an hour or less and leaks are repaired within four hours, whereas the typical ASADA in Costa Rica measures its response time in days. Also unique to the local ASADA is its use of impact fees which are charged on new water meters.

Walker said the local circumstances regarding the rate and fee requests are also unique, and he didn’t think there was a precedent for determining how long it will take AyA to make a decision.

Yet, according to Cayetano Mendez Trejos, chief of AyA’s Chorotega region with authority over Nosara, the local ASADA “might be one of the best in many aspects, and we have no complaints of bad service to the community. But I have no data that tells me that it is unique nationwide. There are many other ASADAs in the country that are as good as this one.”


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Neighbors Take on Vice Mayor
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School Year for Nicoya Students Starts with School Closure
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On February 10, when the first day of classes begins for this school year, the nearly 1,000 students of Leonidas Briceño Baltodano School of Nicoya will find their school building closed. The Constitutional Court has ordered the Ministries of Health and Education to take measures to protect the safety of the student community. More >

Change in Nosara District Police Headquarters
Tourist Police Turn Lead Over to Nicoya

On Thursday, January 13th, the Nosara district police headquarters were turned over to Nicoya’s Fuerza Publica, no longer being a part of Guiones’ Tourist Police, as it had been since November, 2009. More >

Tourists at beaches will continue without public bathrooms
• Constitutional Court indicated that municipalities should satisfy needs
• Ministry of Decentralization argues that there isn’t space for construction along maritime shoreline

The beaches of Guanacaste that tend to receive thousands of visitors at the end and beginning of the year don’t have sanitary toilets or public bathrooms. The municipalities of the cantons that have coastline such as Carillo, Nicoya, Nandayure and Hojancha have not resolved this lack of infrastructure. More >

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