QCOSTARICA – Residents of the Gran Área Metropolitana (GAM) – Greater Metropolitan Area – should be prepared for water rationing that will start within the next 15 days, says the water and sewer utility, the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA).
The water rationing is due to the drought caused by the typical summer conditions associated with El Niño that will last until March, as the country enters the warmer months of the year, according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN) – the national weather service.
The conditions will affect the water supply from late January to April.
The critical months, says the AyA, is March and April, when some 400.000 people in the country’s most populated area will see water shortages affect their daily lives.
The first and most affected will be those living in the higher elevations of the areas of Desamparados, Alajuelita, Escazú and Santa Ana (the south and southwest sides of San José).
The shortages in those areas can be for up to 12 hours a day when AyA shuts off the taps on the supply tanks. In other areas, shortages will be from 6 to 12 hours daily.
The rationing will depend on the climate. In critical cases, the Aya says it will keep the taps dry from 9:00pm to 5:00am and 10:00am to 4:00pm.
To mitigate the situation, the AyA says it will be continually monitoring and evaluating water levels and consumption.
Across the country, the IMN says the North Pacific and Central Pacific, areas after a winter with less rain than average, will also be affected.
In Guanacaste, for example, there has been no rain since late November, according to Oscar Vásquez, regional director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) in that area.
Luis Fernando Alvarado, a meteorologist with the Department of Climatology of the IMN, explained that between September and October intensity of El Niño dropped, but in November it intensified again and is continuing.
El Niño arises for warming waters of the equatorial Pacific, and its effect on Costa Rica is manifested through reduced rainfall and higher temperatures in the Pacific and the Central Valley, and increased rainfall in the Caribbean coast .
The drought also affects livestock. A survey by Corporación Ganadera (Corfoga) in 2012 estimates at least 450.000 cattle in Guanacaste and the Central Pacific are threatened by the drought.
The effect of the drought is also expected on grains (rice, corn and beans), fruits (mango, avocado, watermelon and cantaloupe) and other products such as sugar care and beekeeping (honey), according to the MAG.
Source: La Nacion