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Mystery of E.Coli in Carrillo’s Estuaries Goes Unsolved

By Arianna McKinney

This year Carrillo only earned one star instead of two in the Ecological Blue Flag program because of a study that revealed high presence of E.Coli in the beach’s estuaries. Although so far the ocean water is still safe for swimming, that could change if action is not taken to find and remedy the problem. 

Darner Mora of Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA- Aqueducts and Sewers), who recently issued a report on the sanitary quality of Costa Rica’s estuaries, explained that the open oceanic topography of the beach gives it an advantage because most of the fecal contamination from the estuaries gets diluted. However, he estimated that if corrective measures aren’t taken, the contamination could render the beach unsafe for swimming in about 10 years.

Walking along the beach, VON was able to locate the water shed within Villas
Playa Samara’s property and observe water spewing from it. The question is
whether this water might contaminate Carrillo’s interconnected bodies of water.

Two theories have been presented by community representatives as possible sources of the water contamination.  Peter Dufner, the president of the Chamber of Tourism, suggested that the source could be the houses located in the bay, while Francisco Nuñez Paniagua, president of the town’s development association, indicated that the cause could be residual waters reportedly being ejected within the maritime land zone by luxury hotel Villas Playa Samara. 

One factor that makes it more difficult to identify and resolve the problem is that one part of Carrillo belongs to the Canton of Hojancha and the other part to the Canton of Nicoya, complicating the issue of who is responsible for taking action. 

Yessenia Ruiz Arias, director of the Ministry of Health in Hojancha, said that when they received the findings from AyA, they went to perform tests using a dye to see if waters from the septic systems in the community might be leaking into the estuaries, but the dye did not show up in the estuaries. Within Hojancha’s section of Carrillo, Ruiz said most homes and businesses have normal sanitary drainage and only one hotel has a wastewater treatment plant, and all of these passed inspections.

Regarding the other theory, though, Ruiz indicated that Villas Playa Samara is within the jurisdiction of Nicoya. She acknowledged that various denunciations have been received against the hotel and have been passed on to the Nicoya Ministry of Health, but nothing has ever been confirmed. 


Geometric Average CF/100mL

Color Codes





> 1000-2000






Xinia Cordero Vargas, who has served as director for the Nicoya Ministry of Health for six months now, was unaware of the issue and said she would need time to review the former denunciations before commenting. 

Carlos Esquivel, president of Samara’s water board (ASADA), is one of the people how has submitted denunciations against the hotel. He alleges that the hotel has water drainage into the Sangroso estuary as well as a small water shed  right next to a mangrove area close to the beach.

In the report by Mora, samples were taken from five locations in Carrillo’s estuaries and four of the five revealed significant concentrations of E. Coli. The water samples were assigned color codes based on the quantity of E. Coli present. Blue is the cleanest category, but none of Carrillo’s estuaries fit into that group. Only one of the five samples was classified as green. Two were coded as yellow, one as red and one in the worst category, brown. According to the report, with the exception of the estuary categorized as green, the waters from these estuaries should not be used for primary contact recreation (such as swimming) or for watering plants. 


More Regional News

Pictures and News of the Month

The Voice of Nosara brings you a brief recap of June stories you might have missed.

Montaña River Flooding May Wash Away Bridge Fill

The concern is twofold for the residents of Nosara when it comes to transit routes in their community. The roads are in poor condition and the Moñtana river bridge is unfinished.

Ministry of Health and Municipality Look to Eliminate Street Venders

Friday morning, June 22, a group of officials from the Ministry of Health and the Municipality of Nicoya decomissioned merchandise from a group of women street venders that display their products in front of the Court of Justice in the city of Nicoya. 

Wealthy US Citizens dumping Passports to Avoid Tax in Costa Rica

As taxes continue to rise in the United States, the upcoming expiration of the Bush Administration tax cuts and a proposed 55 percent tax increase on the horizon for the wealthy, an increasing amount of the United States’ wealthier population is disillusioned.

Health Department Shuts Down Artisan Tables in Samara

On Friday, June 22, representatives of the Ministry of Health shut down the tables where local artisans have been selling their wares. This is the second time the artisans have been shut down and left wondering where to go or what to do to continue working and supporting their families. 

Representative Mendoza Supports Nosara’s Demonstration

Juan Carlos Mendoza, legislative representative of the Citizen Action Party (PAC-Partido Acción Ciudadana), recently visited Nicoya. VON took advantage of the opportunity to talk to Mendoza and get his opinion about the possible demonstration by Nosarans and the project of the Costal Territories law. 

About 2000 From Nosara Will Protest on July 25th
• Demonstrators Will Demand Pavement for Route 160

Members of different social and community organizations from Nosara will march to Nicoya July 25th to request that the government incorporate pavement over route 160 in the budget. 

Commission Reports that 90% of Proposed Regulatory Plan is a Cut and Paste Job

On Wednesday, June 6, the Administrative Commission of nine community representatives presented an extensive report to the Municpal Council of the Canton of Nicoya, recommending that the council completely reject the proposed regulatory plan elaborated by the Spanish company Inypsa.

Nicoya Mayor Will Protest Against the Government on July 25 Celebrations

Marco Antonio Jimenez Muñoz, mayor of Nicoya, Guanacaste, announced that he will protest against Laura Chinchilla Miranda’s government, on the Day of Annexation because of the "deplorable state of national roads in this area.”

Pictures and News of the Month

The Voice of Nosara brings you a brief recap of the May stories you might have missed.

The Order to Close Pedregal is for Land that Was Not Being Exploited

Several Nicoyans are asking themselves how is it that the company of Pedregal can continue to work on the site of La Calera, at the entrance to the city of Nicoya. The reason is that the Environmental Administrative Tribunal, which ordered a temporary cessation of Pedregal in Nicoya, made this resolution due to a second site where the company was working in 2009.

Servicentro Nicoya Under Scrutiny for Closing Passageway and Possible Illegal Construction

Servicentro Nicoya, located 100 meters from La Anexion Hospital, is under the watchful eye of the Municipality of Nicoya, the Controller General of the Republic, the Environmental Court and residents of the El Carmen neighborhood. 

Nosara’s Economic Forecast Looks Sunny

As the dust from dry season settles metaphorically and literally, merchants and business owners in Nosara are counting their spoils.

Rising Prices Hurt the Pocketbook

First the price of gas went up, next the price of bus tickets and finally the government added a 13% tax on products in the basic food basket. It’s time to take out the calculator and grab the pocketbook because everything is going up in price and your bill could reach an unforeseen amount. 

Nicoyan Auditor Owes Municipality 15 Years of Taxes
• Municipal Council Approved Sending Case to the Controller
• Official Was Suspended for Three Months

At the same time that ministers of the Republic have been under investigation for evading taxes, the internal auditor of the Municipality of Nicoya, Gilberto Lizano Elizondo, has also been under investigation for evading real estate taxes since 1997, as detailed in a report by the directive organ that investigated the case.

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