Water institute given approval to buy devices to catch arsenic

The nation’s main water company said Wednesday that it has received approval to issue direct contracts to purchase seven devices to remove arsenic from drinking water.

The arsenic is naturally occurring in Guanacaste and parts of the northern zone, and the problem had been known for years.

The water company, the  Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillado, was told by the constitutional court to fix the problem after users had been complaining for years.

Arsenic is suspected for some health problems in the Bagaces area at least.

The devices will cost 1 billion colons, under terms of the contract approval. That’s about $20 million. The approval for a direct contract still requires publication of an invitation to bid and formal bids, but awarding the contract will be much quicker than the normal purchasing process. The approval came from the  Contraloría General de la República, the budget watchdog agency.

The devices will be put in place in various water systems in Bagaces, Agua Caliente, Cristo Rey de Los Chiles,  Santa Cecilia de Los Chiles,  Vuelta de Kooper de Aguas Zarcas, and others.

The approval documents seems to leave it up to the water company to determined the type of device to purchase. Removing arsenic from drinking water is a worldwide problem and a difficult one. The best long-term solution is drilling water wells far below the rock strata containing the arsenic, according to online discussions.

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