San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Water Wars

Water rationing will continue for at least one month, agency says

Water shortages currently affecting 77 communities throughout Costa Rica likely will continue until the end of April, the Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) said this week.

Some 117,000 residents in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) are the most affected by the ongoing lack of water, and AyA has been applying daily rationing for up to 10 hours during most of this year.

The shortage is due to a severe decrease by some 50 percent in water reserves that affects mostly residents east of the capital, according to the AyA.

The agency said water levels at sources supplying eastern San José decreased by 20 percent earlier this year, due to a lack of rainfall during the past rainy season.

“The decrease in water reserves in this area was an unexpected situation caused by harsh weather conditions that hit the country in recent years and dried many water sources, mostly those closer to ground level, which usually are smaller and therefore more easily affected,” AyA’s GAM Manager Sergio Núñez said at a press conference.

He also blamed consumers for “misusing” the resource.

Customer complaints with AyA increase every day, yet the agency does not have an immediate solution.

“Right now we are evaluating areas to drill wells that will allow us to increase water availability in our distribution systems, but these solutions likely will help us reduce shortages for dry seasons from 2015 onwards,” Núñez said.

Currently the most affected areas east of the capital are Zapote, San Francisco, San Diego, Desamparados and the canton of La Unión, west of Cartago. Residents in these communities have been forced to ration water for up to 12 hours every day since January.

AyA customers in these areas have complained to The Tico Times that their monthly bills arrive with the same charges, even though they have no water most of the day. They also say that AyA has not sent tanker trucks to the area to supply water as the agency does in other communities.

The National Meteorological Institute recently reported that Costa Rica’s transition to the rainy season would occur as scheduled between late April and early May, but less precipitation in most of the country is expected, mostly due to the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Contact L. Arias at

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