Tamarindo residents are trying to figure out how to reduce fecal contamination in runoff waters after the National Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) found 11 sites around the beach and in the ocean with high levels of fecal contamination.
The AyA report comes after an August Health Ministry report also found high levels of contamination in the area’s runoff waters, much of which drain into the ocean. The beach boomtown has no wastewater treatment plant.
It also comes after a report that rivers and streams feeding the country’s largest lake, Arenal, are contaminated with the same bacteria as Tamarindo waters, fecal coliform. Fecal coliform indicates the presence of sewage contamination in a waterway. In the case of Arenal, the contamination is due largely to livestock in nearby dairy farms.
AyA spokeswoman Gretes Corrales said that the institute gave the community until this week to act upon the study and establish a plan to reduce the contamination, or else Tamarindo beach could be putting in jeopardy its Blue Flag certification – an international award granted to ecologically sound beaches, schools and communities. The AyA study comes after Tamarindo lost funding for its lifeguard program (TT, Sept. 7).
Corrales said it’s up to the Health Ministry to decide whether the community’s response to the AyA report is sufficient.
The Tico Times wasn’t able to get a hold of Health Minister María Luisa Avila as of press time.
Oscar Sánchez, manager of the luxurious Hotel Tamarindo Diriá, said community leaders held an initial meeting with local authorities, AyA representatives and Health Ministry representatives Wednesday to formulate a solution to the problem.
“It’s a community-wide problem,” he said.