Aquifers in the Central Valley are being depleted, putting the area’s drinking supply at risk, according to the results of a study released Wednesday by the National Subterranean Water and Irrigation Service (SENARA).
According to the study, the Barva and Colima aquifers, north of San José, have the ability to replenish up to 9.72 liters of water per second. About 9.8 liters per second are being extracted through both legitimate and unauthorized wells, and if this continues, there will be a 15% water deficit by 2015, according to a statement from SENARA.
Key areas that provide water to these aquifers include the higher-altitude regions of Alajuela, northwest of San José; Moravia, northeast of San José; and the Heredia cantons of San Isidro, San Rafael, Santa Bárbara and Santo Domingo.
The results of the study have been shared with officials at the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE), the municipalities affected, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) and the Public Services Company of Heredia (ESPH).
The National Water Service also suggested potential solutions to these problems including encouraging municipalities to carefully consider how development and growth projects affect water sources and draft “vulnerability maps.”
Another recommendation is that MINAE study the Colima aquifer to regulate its uses and draft a plan to crack down on illegal water extraction.
The plan would include a permanent monitoring process that would allow MINAE to track precipitation, changes in zoning and land use, climate change, and growth of impermeable zones – such as concrete and pavement – to ensure adequate water supplies in aquifers throughout the region.