San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Officials warn of impending water shortage in Costa Rica

In the midst of what some officials have called Costa Rica´s worst drought in memory, Ricardo Sancho, president of the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute (AyA), has warned of water shortages in the near future if the nation´s citizens don´t begin to conserve the resource.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Sancho said the country needs to reduce its water consumption by 20 percent over the next three months in order to avoid an emergency drinking water situation. The average Costa Rican, who consumes 200 liters of water per day, must lower his or her daily use by 40 liters, according to Sancho.

This year, some regions have seen half their usual rainfall due to the presence of the El Niño phenomenon in the Caribbean Sea. AyA projects that every area of the country, except the Caribbean province of Limón, will see surface water reductions between 20 and 40 percent through next summer.

“This has given us a very important alert,” Sancho said. “If there is no change in water consumption on the part of Costa Rican families, we are going to have serious problems with water shortages.”

Sancho insisted that individuals should not wash their cars with anything other than a piece of cloth. He urged citizens to steer clear of watering their gardens and to spend a maximum of three minutes in the shower over the next three months.

In the case of a water shortage emergency, AyA will set up a crisis center and send cistern trucks to affected neighborhoods. The institute will also prepare bags of water to pass out to parched communities.

These plans are already in the works and should be ready in 2010, if needed.

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