San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Grecia Strives to Maintain its Clean Water

CROWNED the cleanest city inLatin America in the 1980s by a congressof Latin American municipalities, thenorthwest Central Valley town of Greciaprides itself on its environmentally friendlyattitude.In recent years, this pride hasextended past the town’s main churchto the surrounding communities and theslopes above, lined with cattle ranches,coffee farms and nationally protectedlands.The goal of keeping things clean hasalso extended past bragging rights to afundamental necessity of area residents:clean water.Administrators of the region’s 32community aqueducts are teaching environmentaleducation and purchasingland for conservation and reforestation,all to guarantee sources of clean water.Community members in San Roque,just outside Grecia, began in 2000 to payan additional ¢200 ($0.43) per month ontheir water bills toward the purchase ofproperty to protect their aqueduct andspring. Some residents also donatefunds to purchase land.While aqueduct administrators havesucceeded in purchasing small chunks ofland, they now have their eyes on a 62.5-acre property they hope to reforest andopen as an ecological park.A small house on one of the propertiespurchased for the San Roque aqueductis used to give workshops to studentsand residents from throughout theregion on the importance of conservation.The nearby springs provide areminder why.“It’s important for people to see wheretheir water comes from, to understand it isnot just a matter of turning on the faucet,”said Rulberth Hidalgo, an administrator forthe San Roque aqueduct.

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