San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Alajuela Ordered to Stop Dumping Raw Sewage

THE Municipality of Alajuela andthree central government institutions areunder court order to prevent the dumpingof raw sewage into the area’s rivers aftercitizens took legal action.The Constitutional Chamber of theSupreme Court (Sala IV) ruled April 15in favor of two parties demanding asolution to the river pollution, the odorof which has made some areas “uninhabitable,”according to a statement fromthe Judicial Branch.One ruling called on the municipality,National Water and Sewer Institute(AyA), the Public Health Ministry andthe Environment and Energy Ministry(MINAE) to treat sewage waste in theLa Giralda neighborhood within threemonths, or the heads of those bodies willface three months to two years of prison,or a fine of 20-60 days’ wages.The other ruling called on the municipalityto make plans in its 2006 budgetfor an “integrated solution” to the dumpingof untreated sewage in Alajuela’scentral canton. It called on the HealthMinistry and AyA to cooperate with themunicipality’s efforts, and ordered theComptroller General’s Office to withholdapproval of the 2006 budget until itincludes money for treating raw sewage.Should any of those institutions disobeythe order, their heads face the samepenalty: three months to two years ofprison, or a fine of 20-60 days’ wages.Raw sewage in the streams is “fetid,causes nauseating odors, ruins theappearance of the landscape and businessesin the area, has made the areainhospitable to residences or any productiveactivity, and has increased the riskof the spread of disease,” the JudicialBranch statement said.

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