Battling a little known, but the very seen and costly theft of manhole covers that cost the AyA some ¢20 million colones a year, the state water and sewer company is now using new materials and designs to prevent theft.

The AyA reports between 15 and 20 manhole covers are stolen a month, who sell them to foundries.

The use of the new material and design is to make the manhole covers less attractive (and not worth as much) to thieves. From Spain, the new covers are made of ductile iron (an alloy of iron and nodular graphite) that is immune to conventional smelting furnaces since the material has more hardness and resistance to heat.

Infograph by La Nacion

The lifespan of the manhole cover is between 35 and 40 years and cost about ¢105,000 colones each, ¢25,000 more than conventional iron.

Some 23,000 manhole covers are being changed out in the Gran Área Metropolitana (GAM) – Greater Metropolitan Area of San Jose – the area of concentration by the AyA, given that the hotspots for theft are Desamparados, Pavas, La Uruca, León XIII and some areas of Tibás.

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