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The Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage System (AyA) Ensures Water Quality in Tamarindo and Langosta

Good water in town

Many users consulted Beko Services SA over the phone or through emails about what was going on, since until March 06, this company was in charge of providing this service. Rumors suggested that the inconvenience was caused on purpose.

According to some residents, who asked to remain anonymous, before AyA took charge of the water supply in the area, Beko officials decided to remove the pumps and valves and leave the population without such vital liquid.

After several days of silence, and due to the questioning of residents, visitors and owners of different businesses, Beko Services SA issued a press release that reads, “the aqueduct we built, developed and directed for the last 15 years , supported by a legitimate license granted to us by Costa Rica, is going to be temporarily administered by the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewer Systems (AyA), as a result of a resolution taken by the Administrative Law Court, which ordered us to handling it over temporarily, while ratifying the final judgments that will resolve the legal aspects that may persist as to this regards. ”

The deputy manager of AyA Peripheral Systems, Roosevelt Alvarado, partially agreed with this version and clarified that “the State, through MINAET, which is the rector body for hydrous resources, gave us the order of taking over the aqueduct after being serviced by Beko Services SA for 15 years. Subsequently, they filed a lawsuit, which was settled by the Court, and upon which we were requested by a court order to assume the aqueduct. “A fundamental principle of life protected by law is prevailing here. It is a public service that is related to a common good and the lives of our citizens. The Court protects it, therefore, and ordered us to take on all the systems, operation, maintenance, and commercial aspects, so that we can provide the service continuously. It is a court order; no matter what may happen later, right now, the most important thing here is to assure the water service to our customers, regardless of its price.”

The order requests Beko Services to hand in everything that corresponds to the system, whether related to its operation, conduction lines, equipment, pumps, among others, or to its business field, which refers to the billing system.

According to the Beko’s release, signed by Claudio Cerdas, president of the company, “The aqueduct was transferred in just 48 hours, between Thursday, March 5 and Saturday, March 7; just two days after the Administrative Tribunal issued the temporary resolution. Amid the speed with which we had to make the transfer, we were not clear enough about the scope of the measures ordered. So, if there was any delay, it was while finding out what was the best way to proceed, in order to comply with the law. Our actions were never meant to “sabotage” any court decisions or “attempt against the public health of our community.”

However, from the very beginning, things were not carried out transparently. According to AyA, deputy manager, “Prior to the transfer of the aqueduct, on Thursday, March 05, we did a tour with the representatives of Beko and they took us around part of the facilities. They did not show us all; they left out two very important wells, Jobos 1 and 2.”

Let’s add this to the situation reported by several neighbors, who said they have witnessed how some of the pumps in the distribution system were removed. Alvarado confirmed this version. “We called some neighbors from Cerro Cum, who reported… and these are statements made by two neighbors … who have seen how pumping equipments were taken out here and the electrical part of the control panels was dismantled.”

“Later on, a spokesperson from Beko took us to the exit of one of the wells, where he said that a tube has been cut there. This statement has been recorded,” said Alvarado.

However, Beko representatives deny this accusation and claim that they have “never put any obstacle to the legal and formal entrance to our properties and facilities for the AyA officials to take possession of the aqueduct, as the AyA release states, incorrectly.”

But this story does not end there. On March 12, during AyA Deputy Manager visit, a new problem arose. “We had full tanks and we had great pressure for about 50 to 100 meters. But after that point, only 20 to 30 meters away, there was no water. It seemed strange to us. Therefore, we requested the engineers to carry out programmed excavations. Today, we have found unfortunate evidence that confirms that the distribution pipeline was cut. This pipeline is the one that takes the water down the hill and supplies water to the population. It was cut, and there were two caps covering each pole,” said Roosevelt Alvarado.

He added that “This situation was made public. We made declarations about this finding. We never said who did it. We simply stated that we found a damage that is unfortunately affecting water consumption of the population of this district.”

The officials took photos, a video and they have the formal complaint submitted to the members of the Judicial Investigation Department (OIJ) on site.

As a response to the accusations, Beko said, “We cannot assume any responsibility for the quality, condition, quantity and continuity of drinking water supply of the aqueduct, from the moment that we stopped controlling its operation.” The people from AyA already made clear that” water quality standards are among the best in the world, not America, but of the world! This is thanks to our vast experience, a lab currently certified by ISO; we have professionals with a long professional background and very good preparation. All of these aspects have allowed us to stand out in what we do, based on the extensive experience of our engineers, technicians and plumbers. I can say that, in the country, AyA is the company of safe water supply, sanitation, wastewater treatment par excellence. AyA’s experts and schools are evidently the reference point for technical aspects,” said Alvarado.

Is the system fully restored everywhere? “We know quite well the part of the tanks, and the distribution lines. Cerro Cum is done; we are working a 100%. However, there is a segment of the population that normally does not receive water on a continuous basis during the high seasons, or summer. Not just now, but generally. Once the system has been stabilized, we will visit these people, one by one, when we can say for sure that the wells flow will rise after analyzing the production systems. If we cannot provide these people with water 24 hours a day, it will continue as it has been done, so far.”

Are there any improvements planned for the system? “Once we have a deeper understanding of the system, we will analyze this point. We do have an obligation to improve our services. If, for example, there is a pipe or a diameter that we may consider should be expanded; if we need to extend the pipe branches, or whether we need to purchase new pumping equipment or not in order to improve our service, then we will do it. So, do not surprise if someday you see us opening a street to get a new pipeline in and if we have to suspend the service because we are improving the pumping system. That’s our mission and vision. You can be sure that once we have studied the system as a whole, we will make improvements, as required. “

What is the next step? “Obviously, it will take some time while we make the registry studies of the whole area; but we estimate that by mid-April we will be already billing, since we are planning to meter by the end of this month. Actually, I would like to make something clear. We are not receiving moneys from pending bills to Beko. It was not our time, and it will be wrong if we did it. We simply cannot do it! There have been people coming to pay for that. That does not correspond to us. It wouldn´t be fair. Once we start metering, we start charging. The fees are the ones approved by ARESEP as to the region of Tamarindo. The institution has a philosophy of social responsibility that cannot be ignored. Our interest is not to make money. As part of the state, we have the obligation of supplying the best quality water under better conditions and at fair prices.”

Can you guarantee quality water, then? “You may not only drink water straight from the tap in San Jose. Once we have the certainty, we will tell the community of Tamarindo that can take water from the tap. That is our guarantee. Once we have the lab results, we will spread a release stating that the water can be taken from the tap.”

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Keeping our beach beautiful – and safe

The Holwer Mag
By: Diana Zimmerman

Tamarindo Chapter
Tamarindo Chapter

The beach, certainly, was born beautiful but it takes a lot of work to keep it that way.  Every day for the last fourteen years, regardless of temperatures, torrents or blowing sand, Jose Santos Corrales, known affectionately as Ro-Ro, has been walking the streets and beaches of our Tamarindo/Langosta community picking up trash.  He’s a great guy, but he isn’t doing this for free.  He and Gerardo Acosta share this full-time position which was paid for by the Associacion Pro Mejoras until it became inactive in 2008.

If anything is mandatory for Tamarindo, it’s a clean beach.  It’s probably the only thing we all agree on.  If the beach looks like a trash dump, our town is history.  This is the concern with which Pro Mejoras members approached Tamarindo’s fledgling chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.  Surfrider’s primary focus, contrary to what its name might suggest, is not surfing.  The Surfrider Foundation is an international organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans and beaches and guaranteeing free access to them for all people.  In August of 2008, Surfrider accepted the responsibility of providing Ro-Ro and Gerardo with their salary and the corresponding coverage by the CCSS.  Since then, every day is a Surfrider beach clean-up day.  This small group of sea-lovers has been working hard to pull together the $800 needed each month to perform this daily beauty treatment on Tamarindo.  That’s a big check for a tiny non-profit organization to write each month.  The Surfrider Foundation wants to publicly thank Orange Realty for their generous donation of $1,600 which paid for two months of Ro-Ro’s salary.  The Asociacion Nautica (or, less formally, “The Boat Association”) makes a monthly contribution of $50 to Surfrider and various members of the community have demonstrated their support with donations ranging from $20 to $1,000.  We depend on the beach and the beach depends on us.

Tamarindo Beach
Tamarindo Beach

Two other sister organizations were born in March of 2008 and have just celebrated their first birthday.  One of them is the Tamarindo Lifeguard Program.  In the year that donations have paid for the salaries of certified lifeguards on Tamarindo beach, at least 30 people have been rescued from potential drowning situations and many others treated for injuries caused by surfboards.  In spite of the fact that multiple deaths and the ensuing bad publicity have been avoided, the Lifeguard program is itself in need of emergency rescue.  Several months ago, the Hotel Tamarindo Diria assumed total responsibility for the salary and benefits of one of the lifeguards, leaving the town of Tamarindo the responsibility of funding only one lifeguard.   Cheryl McKillican, who single-handedly manages the program while raising a family, explains that the program, at present, does not know where its next meal is coming from.  One thousand dollars is necessary per month to cover expenses and the $4,000 raised for this purpose by the Raft-Up has all been spent.  Minimal support from the homes and businesses that benefit from the safety that the lifeguards provide has caused this crucial program to survive on a monthly hand-to-mouth basis with the constant possibility that this month will be their last.  Everyone seems to think that someone else should pay.  The Lifeguard Program wishes to thank, in addition to the Hotel Tamarindo Diria, the Surfrider Foundation, Hotel Capitan Suizo, Hotel Cala Luna and Tienda Dolores for their willingness to contribute.

The third sister celebrating a birthday is Tamarindo Recycles.  The community’s thirteenth Recycling Day was held on Saturday, March 14 in conjunction with a Surfrider beach clean-up.  In its first year of existence, Tamarindo Recycles has redirected tons of trash away from our landfills and sent it over the mountains to San Jose in a rather rickety-looking truck to be recycled in San Jose.  Tamarindo Recycles is run solely by hard-working volunteers who meet several times each month to organize publicity, education and of course Recycling Day.  Mark it down and no more excuses:  Recycling Day is held the SECOND SATURDAY of each month with the exception of the one in April, that will be on the THIRD Saturday due to Semana Santa.  This organization is different.  It isn’t asking for your money.  It asks for an hour of your Saturday morning once a month and the use of your feet for crushing cans, your hands for twisting off bottle caps, your arms for unloading boxes from cars.  Businesses with a large volume of recyclable material are now being asked NOT to bring their cast-offs to Recycling Day, but will be put into direct contact with the driver of the truck in order to arrange on-site pick-up.  This allows a manageable amount of trash to be collected from community households and the large quantities of material to be moved a minimum number of times, conserving the backs of willing-hearted volunteers and simplifying logistics.

On Saturday, April 4, 2009, the Surfrider Foundation, the Lifeguard Program and Tamarindo Recycles would like to invite all members of the Tamarindo/Langosta community to join us in celebrating the continuation of our positive work in the community.  A fundraiser fiesta, held at La Laguna del Cocodrilo, will collect a suggested donation at the door in order to sustain the health and beauty treatments that keep our town alive and vital.  The bar will donate a percentage of drinks purchased, so come enjoy the music and revelry with the really cool people who make it all happen.

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Costa Rica to say lights out for Earth Hour

Vote Earth and switch off!
Vote Earth and switch off!

By Meagan Robertson
Tico Times Staff

On Saturday night, San José will be one of almost 2,500 cities worldwide turning off their lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. for Earth Hour. Festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. in Plaza de la Democracia, featuring a concert by candlelight and acoustic performances throughout the night.

Earth Hour is an annual international event created by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that began in Sydney in 2007, when 2 million people turned off their lights for at least one hour. In 2008, more than 50 million people around the globe participated. Costa Rica is one of 83 countries participating in the event, and in Costa Rica’s case, for the first time.

The candlelight concert will feature Manuel Obregon, Carlos Tapado Vargas and Jaime Gamboa, three well-known national artists. Come 8:30 p.m. the only light in the plaza will be provided by 1,000 candles that will be distributed by WWF to everyone in the plaza. Most businesses in the area have also agreed to turn off their neon signs and music during the event.

The spokesperson for WWF in Central America, Lilian Márquez, is eager to see Costa Rican involvement.

“Figuring out how to stop global warming seems so overwhelming to some people,” said Márquez, “and they’re always asking what they can do to make a difference. Here’s something they can participate in that makes a difference.”

In 2009, Earth Hour aims to reach out to two billion people worldwide in order to demonstrate the magnitude of this support to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. The meeting will determine new international policies against global warming to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Márquez has concentrated most of her efforts on the San José event, where aside from concerts, there will be performers juggling fire and artists creating images with UV and florescent colors.

“Earth Hour is a call to action for all citizens of the world,” said Márquez. “By turning off your lights you’re showing that you’re conscious of your impact on the environment.”

For more information about Earth Hour, visit the official website at