Tamarindo Getting Potty Trained

January 11, 2008

Health Ministry Has Closed 11 Businesses, Put 65 Others on Notice

 

Health Ministry Has Closed 11 Businesses, Put 65 Others on Notice

After months tracking the route of last night’s gallo pinto from toilet to sea, the Health Ministry issued sanitary orders to 65 businesses in Tamarindo and closed 11 others, demanding immediate action to clean up the Pacific coast town’s sewage problem.

The move – which pointed the finger at more than half the hotels and restaurants inspected by the ministry – outraged some but calmed others who believed it long overdue.

In August, the National Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) discovered dangerous levels of fecal contamination along Tamarindo’s beaches.

The results were shelved for weeks until the national press prompted the Health Ministry to take action.

“We are happy to see there has been progress,” said Federico Amador, president of the Tamarindo Improvement Association, which has helped support the ministry efforts. “But we still have serious problems.”

Tamarindo, idealized in the movie “Endless Summer” for its tanned surfers and velvety waves, lacks both zoning and a sewage treatment plant.

The Health Ministry report cited a wide range of violations – from tubes spewing sewage directly onto the street or the stream out back, to businesses operating without licenses or any sewage treatment at all.

“There have been a huge amount of irregularities detected,” said Amador.

There has been some good news too. Recent tests conducted by accredited labs and the University of Costa Rica showed waters had cleaned up significantly since August – to the point where they were once again safe for swimming.

It’s a welcome relief, said Amador, as snowbirds from Europe and North America flock to the town, now considered by the Costa Rica Tourism Institute (ICT) to be the country’s third most-popular tourist destination.

Health Ministry officials acknowledge some improvement was inevitable with the onset of the December-May dry season, but believe baby steps taken over the past few months have helped too.

Despite a more positive outlook, the beach’s Blue Flag, signifying clean ocean water, which was revoked in November, will remain revoked for now, said Amador.

“We won’t reapply until we’re sure we deserve it,” he said. “We want to resolve the underlying issues, not look for quick fixes.”

During the rainy season, the water table rises, flooding leach fields and septic tanks, and eventually, re-routing sewage into the ocean.

Amador said a full year will be necessary before the town can ensure the problem has been resolved.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” said Amador. “We understand that this process takes time.”

The Health Ministry’s methodical approach began in October and included the distribution of a questionnaire asking building owners to identify the age and status of their own sewage treatment facilities or septic tanks.

After that, weeks of inspections, further tests and mapping allowed officials to identify chief offenders, according to Dr. Juan Luis Sánchez, director of the ministry’s Santa Cruz regional office.

This newest round of sanitary orders – which demand property owners take action to remedy faulty sewage systems – and closures are the result.

Concerned residents, as well as the Health Ministry, have called for the construction of town sewage treatment plant.

“We are taking the right steps, but we have to keep pushing for more,”Amador said.

 

Health Ministry Has Closed 11 Businesses, Put 65 Others on Notice

After months tracking the route of last night’s gallo pinto from toilet to sea, the Health Ministry issued sanitary orders to 65 businesses in Tamarindo and closed 11 others, demanding immediate action to clean up the Pacific coast town’s sewage problem.

The move – which pointed the finger at more than half the hotels and restaurants inspected by the ministry – outraged some but calmed others who believed it long overdue.

In August, the National Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) discovered dangerous levels of fecal contamination along Tamarindo’s beaches.

The results were shelved for weeks until the national press prompted the Health Ministry to take action.

“We are happy to see there has been progress,” said Federico Amador, president of the Tamarindo Improvement Association, which has helped support the ministry efforts. “But we still have serious problems.”

Tamarindo, idealized in the movie “Endless Summer” for its tanned surfers and velvety waves, lacks both zoning and a sewage treatment plant.

The Health Ministry report cited a wide range of violations – from tubes spewing sewage directly onto the street or the stream out back, to businesses operating without licenses or any sewage treatment at all.

“There have been a huge amount of irregularities detected,” said Amador.

There has been some good news too. Recent tests conducted by accredited labs and the University of Costa Rica showed waters had cleaned up significantly since August – to the point where they were once again safe for swimming.

It’s a welcome relief, said Amador, as snowbirds from Europe and North America flock to the town, now considered by the Costa Rica Tourism Institute (ICT) to be the country’s third most-popular tourist destination.

Health Ministry officials acknowledge some improvement was inevitable with the onset of the December-May dry season, but believe baby steps taken over the past few months have helped too.

Despite a more positive outlook, the beach’s Blue Flag, signifying clean ocean water, which was revoked in November, will remain revoked for now, said Amador.

“We won’t reapply until we’re sure we deserve it,” he said. “We want to resolve the underlying issues, not look for quick fixes.”

During the rainy season, the water table rises, flooding leach fields and septic tanks, and eventually, re-routing sewage into the ocean.

Amador said a full year will be necessary before the town can ensure the problem has been resolved.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” said Amador. “We understand that this process takes time.”

The Health Ministry’s methodical approach began in October and included the distribution of a questionnaire asking building owners to identify the age and status of their own sewage treatment facilities or septic tanks.

After that, weeks of inspections, further tests and mapping allowed officials to identify chief offenders, according to Dr. Juan Luis Sánchez, director of the ministry’s Santa Cruz regional office.

This newest round of sanitary orders – which demand property owners take action to remedy faulty sewage systems – and closures are the result.

Concerned residents, as well as the Health Ministry, have called for the construction of town sewage treatment plant.

“We are taking the right steps, but we have to keep pushing for more,”Amador said.

 

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