The Municipalidad de San José has completed some anti-flood work along the Río María Aguilar in Las Luisas and Barrio Méndez in San Francisco de Dos Ríos.
Municipal officials want to promote their efforts, but a photo they sent with a press release serves another purpose. It demonstrates the deplorable condition of the Central Valley sewers.
The municipality enhanced a wall under a pedestrian bridge at the site. The wall extends for 20 meters, about 66.5 feet, and is designed to keep the cresting river from coming out of its banks during rainy season.
Sewers are not under the jurisdiction of the municipality, so while officials were investing 4 million colons, about $8,000 in the concrete work, no one bothered to fix the gaping openings in the sanitary sewer line.
The photo shows water pouring through the rusted wall of the pipe directly into the river.
The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados
has been planning a massive sewer project for years. But so far the effort has been only on paper.
In May 2007 the Sala IV constitution court ordered 34 municipalities of the Central Valley to stop dumping sewage into the Río Grande de Tárcoles, to restore the watershed to its unpolluted condition and to adopt an integrated solution to the wastewater problem.
The Japanese international aid agency has allocated $135 million for Costa Rica’s sewers, but the money is untouched because the country cannot come up with additional funds.
Acueductos y Alcantarillados says it is in the process of seeking approval of a contract to build a treatment plant in La Carpio. The Contraloría de la República has to sign off on the deal. But officials estimate that it will not be until 2015 that the plant is in operation.
In addition, the entire network of sewer lines have to be replaced and also extended.
Until then the bulk of the sewage from the Central Valley will continue to flow into the Tárcoles, the Gulf of Nicoya and the Pacific Ocean.