Like Water for Guanacaste: Costa Rica Lacks Funding
The province of Guanacaste may be home to the Gold Coast beaches, the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, the most expensive communities in Costa Rica, and a thriving expatriate scene, but it comes up way short in one aspect: a reasonable and efficient supply of drinking water. One of the most vexing challenges of the current administration under President Luis Guillermo Solis is to ensure that all communities in the formerly “forgotten province” of Guanacaste have access to water, and his cabinet is more than ready to take on this task. The only thing missing is funding.
According to a recent news story by Manuel Sancho of online news daily CRHoy.com, President Solis recently signed an Executive Order that would launch a new coordinated effort to improve the water supply in Guanacaste, a province that is dotted by green golf courses that are constantly watered while families in working-class neighborhoods carry buckets, pots and pans from their homes to cisterna trucks idling in their communities.
How the Plan Should Work
The Agua Para Guanacaste project is certainly ambitious, and it also aims to provide water to North Pacific district of Puntarenas such as Lepanto, Cobano and Paquera. Minister of the Environment Edgar Gutierrez will be in charge of organizing a committee that will include various government agencies. The Executive Decree signed by President Solis had to be overhauled a couple of times at the Legislative Assembly in San Jose because lawmakers thought that it did not go far enough in terms of scope.
One of the problems faced by the project is directly related to climate change. River levels in Guanacaste have reached historical lows recently, and climate experts are not expecting a sudden improvement. The great rivers that will be part of the project include the Tempisque, Bebedero, Tarcoles, Herradura, Barranca, and Abangares. Another problem is that the project has zero funding at this time since it did not make it into budget planning debates on time. All agencies and institutions participating will have to set aside funding, but some of them are not enjoying the best fiscal situation at this time. One proposal that has been discussed is recruiting water experts and engineers from the national universities since their salaries for this year have already been set aside by their employers.
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