Saturday 1 April 2023

[BLOG] A Possible Solution For The Guanacaste Water Shortage?

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31 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA BLOGS – Last Tuesday, May 10th, the President signed a Presidential Decree prohibiting the drilling of new water wells in the Province of Guanacaste, for a three year period. On Friday, May 13th, the ASADA (Community Water Directorate) for Potrero, Guanacaste, denied the supply of additional water for the large condominium development known as “The Catalinas”, located at Playa Danta.

The Catalinas development involves a 2,500 unit project and is a very important project economically for the region.

While I don’t take issue with the Decree issued by the President, as I believe that he had no other choice at the moment to prevent the fresh water aquifers becoming saline as having been invaded by sea water, due to low ground water run-off during periods of drought, it is clearly a “band aid” solution to the water shortage problem suffered by Guanacaste and not a long term solution.

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If the bigger picture of Costa Rica’s water supply is considered, there really is no water shortage problem in Costa Rica, only a water allocation problem. The Caribbean side of the Country is inundated for approximately six months of the year, with rainfall producing much more water than is required for consumption.

The obvious response to this circumstance is to find a way to transport some of this excess water from the Caribbean side of Costa Rica to the Province of Guanacaste, where it is desperately needed.

When looking for solutions in Costa Rica involving infrastructure, I have found that building on existing infrastructure is a more practical and likely way to achieve results than starting from scratch. The obvious source of water to alleviate Guanacaste’s water problem would be Lake Arenal, which receives significant rainfall on the Caribbean slope.

There already exist two water canals from Lake Arenal to Guanacaste to bring water for the irrigation of crops. Although Lake Arenal exists primarily as the source for hydroelectric power generation, there is a fifty meter set-back from the Lake’s high-water mark, free of development, which belongs to ICE (the Electric Company), which would allow for the raising of the hydro dam and a resulting increased water storage, by flooding this surrounding lake frontage.

Likewise, the two existing canals transporting water to Guanacaste could be amplified in their capacity to carry additional water to replenish the depleted fresh water aquifers.

There would have to be some engineering calculations involved to bring this suggestion to fruition, but from purely a position of logic, I believe that this could form a long term solution for this water shortage problem built on the amplification of existing infrastructure.

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With the increase in tourism, particularly to the Guanacaste area, with new flights from Europe and elsewhere, Costa Rica cannot afford economically to have major tourism projects such as The Catalinas, shelved because of this water shortage issue.

The Economy of Costa Rica requires a long term solution to be implemented and soon.

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Richard Philps
Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney; Email:, Website:

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