Advertisement

Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 107–123 | Cite as

Water supply and sanitation of Costa Rica

  • Kathleen M. BowerEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

Costa Rica is a developing country whose citizens pride themselves on care for the environment. Environmental care is only slowly spreading to include safe and reliable water supplies. Plentiful water resources are used for energy production, industry, municipal water supply, and agriculture. The amount and quality of water resources must be understood and protected for future sustainable use. Based on interviews and conversations, some Costarricense are aware of the need for protection of natural water resources through preservation of forests; other steps toward sustainable water use are not universally valued. Streams are not the preferred source of domestic water supply due to potential water contamination; mostly from untreated sewage, sediment and agricultural chemicals. Quantity and quality of ground water supplies, the current main source of domestic water, are being investigated by scientists of Costa Rica. While 99 % of the population has access to a known supply of domestic water, only 82 % of the population has consistent access to potable drinking water. The potable water supply is smaller in rural areas. Three percent of sewage in Costa Rica is treated before release to the environment. The Río Tárcoles water basin, underlying the largest urban area of Costa Rica, is probably the most polluted in Central America. More is spent for treatment of water-borne diseases than on water supply and sewage treatment. Other potential sources of water contamination are examined.

Keywords

Water resource Water supply Water contamination Sewage treatment Costa Rica Sustainability 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Alejandro Barahona of the Universidad Veritas for logistical help in Costa Rica. Daniela Lizano of the Universidad Veritas was extremely helpful sharing her enthusiasm and environmental knowledge. Ingrid Vargas and Elena Badilla Coto, Central American School of Geology; Elizabeth Carazo and Wilson Biete, Centro de Investigación en Contaminación Ambiental, University of Costa Rica; Miguel Karian, Earth Education International, San Ramon, Costa Rica; and Ricardo Morales, Francisco Amen and Juan Carlos Oreamuno, Dirección de Regulación, Ministerio de Salud; all graciously shared their enthusiasm, knowledge, and experience on water resource issues of Costa Rica. The author greatly appreciates the work of Justin Hackett and Dr. Barry Kronenfeld, Eastern Illinois University, in constructing the maps of Costa Rica. Thanks also to the unknown peer reviewers who gave great suggestions for improvement. The author takes responsibility for any errors of translation.

References

  1. Anderson BA, Romani JH, Phillips H, Wentzel M, Tlabela K (2007) Exploring environmental perceptions, behaviors and awareness: water and water pollution in South Africa. Popul Environ 28:133–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Araya García A, Mora Alvarado DA (2007) Estado del agua para consumo humano y saneamiento en Costa Rica al año 2007. Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, Laboratorio Nacional de AguasGoogle Scholar
  3. Ballestero M, Reyes V (2006) Water quality management in Central America: case study of Costa Rica. In: Biswas AK, Tortajada C, Braga B, Rodriguez DJ (eds) Water resources development and management, water quality management in the Americas. Springer, Netherlands, pp 179–200Google Scholar
  4. Biete W (2010) Personal communication, Centro de Investigación en Contaminación Ambiental, University of Costa Rica, San José, Costa RicaGoogle Scholar
  5. Blomquist W, Ballestero M, Bhat A, Kemper KE (2007) Costa Rica: Tárcoles Basin. In: Kemper KE, Blomquist W, Dinar A (eds) Integrated river management through decentralization. Springer, New York, pp 149–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boucher DH (1983) Coffee (café). In: Janzen DH (ed) Costa Rican natural history. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 86–88Google Scholar
  7. Boucher DH, Hansen M, Risch S, Vandermeer JH (1983) Agriculture. In: Janzen DH (ed) Costa Rican natural history. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 66–73Google Scholar
  8. Bower KM (2010) Sustainability, natural capital, engineering and geology: a case study of Coles County, Illinois, USA. Environ Earth Sci 61(3):549–563. doi: 10.1007/s12665-009-0365-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carazo E (2010) Personal communication. Centro de Investigación en Contaminación Ambiental. University of Costa Rica, San José, Costa RicaGoogle Scholar
  10. de Albuquerque C (2009) Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development; report of the independent expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to drinking water and sanitation. In: Addendum: Mission to Costa Rica; Report to the United Nations General Assembly, A/HRC/12/24/Add.1. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-24-Add1_E.pdf. Accessed 14 Jan 2013
  11. Emerson J, Esty DC, Hsu A, Levy MA, de Sherbinin A, Mara V, Jaiteh M (2012) Environmental performance index 2012. In: Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia Center for International Earth Science Information Network. http://epi.yale.edu/. Accessed 14 Jan 2013
  12. Gogo-Abite IA (1991) Slope stability analysis of laterite soil embankments. Masters Dissertation, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Rivers StateGoogle Scholar
  13. Gutiérrez Saxe M (2009) Armonía con la naturaleza. In: Chapter 4. Estado de la Nación, Programa Estado de la Nación, Costa Rica. http://www.estadonacion.or.cr/images/stories/informes/015/docs/info15cap4.pdf. Accessed 10 May 2012
  14. Hansen M (1983) Chocolate (cacao). In: Janzen DH (ed) Costa Rican natural history. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 81–83Google Scholar
  15. Heiken G, Funiciello R, de Rita D (2005) The Seven Hills of Rome, a geological tour of the eternal city. Princeton University Press, Princeton, p 245Google Scholar
  16. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos de Costa Rica (2005) Iniciativa Latinoamericana y Caribeña para el Desarrollo Sostenible: Indicadores de seguimiento. http://www.inec.go.cr/A/MT/Medio%20Ambiente/Publicaci%C3%B3n/Iniciativa%20Latinoamericana%20y%20Caribe%C3%B1a%20para%20el%20desarrollo%20sostenible.%20Costa%20Rica%202005.pdf. Accessed 4 February 2011
  17. Jasch C, Danse M (2005) Environmental management accounting pilot projects in Costa Rica. In: Rikhardsson PM, Bennett M, Bouma JJ, Schaltegger S (eds) Implementing environmental management accounting, vol 17. Springer, Netherlands, pp 343–364Google Scholar
  18. Langholz J, Lassoie J (2001) Combining conservation and development on private lands: lessons from Costa Rica. Environ Dev Sustain 3:309–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mata AB (2010) 30 percent de usuarios de acueductos rurales recibe agua contaminada. La Nación. San José, p 4Google Scholar
  20. Morales R, Amen F, Oreamuno JC (2010) Personal communication, Dirección de Regulación, Ministerio de Salud, San José, Costa RicaGoogle Scholar
  21. Razzaque J (2009) Public participation in water governance. In: Dellapenna JW, Gupta J (eds) The evolution of the law and politics of water, vol 21. Springer, Netherlands, pp 353–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Reynolds-Vargas J, Fraile-Merino J, Hirata R (2006) Trends in nitrate concentrations and determination of its origin using stable isotopes (super 18) O and (super 15) N in ground water of the western Central Valley, Costa Rica. Ambio 35.5:229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rich PV, Rich TH (1983) The Central American dispersal route: biotic history and paleogeography. In: Janzen DH (ed) Costa Rican natural history. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 12–33Google Scholar
  24. Rosero-Bixby L, Palloni A (1998) Population and deforestation in Costa Rica. Popul Enviro J Interdiscip Stud 20(2):149–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. United Nations General Assembly (2010) General Assembly adopts resolution recognizing access to clean water, sanitation as human right, by recorded vote of 122 in favor, none against, 41 abstentions; GA/10967. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/ga10967.doc.htm
  26. United States Central Intelligence Agency (2010) The World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cs.html. Accessed 10 May 2012
  27. United States Department of State (2010) Background Note: Costa Rica. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2019.htm. Accessed 10 May 2012
  28. Vandermeer J (1983) Banana (Plátano, Banano). In: Janzen DH (ed) Costa Rican natural history. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 75–77Google Scholar
  29. Vargas I (2010) Personal communication, Professor of Geology, Central American School of Geology, San José, Costa RicaGoogle Scholar
  30. Vizcaíno I (2011) 92 playas ofrecen agua de buena calidad a los vacacionistas. La Nación. San José, http://www.nacion.com/2010-11-28/ElPais/NotasSecundarias/ElPais2603060.aspx. Accessed 14 Jan 2013
  31. Winpenny J (2010) Global trends in financing water, in global change. In: Ringler C, Biswas AK, Cline SA (eds) Global Change: Impacts on Water and Food Security, chap 8. Springer, Berlin, pp 143–167. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-04615-5_8
  32. World Health Organization (2008) Guidelines for drinking-water quality [electronic resource]: incorporating 1st and 2nd addenda, vol 1, Recommendations. 3rd edn. Geneva, Switzerland. http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/fulltext.pdf. Accessed 10 May 2012

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology/GeographyEastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA

Personalised recommendations