The metro areas new sewage treatment plant is going up in the Los Tajos section of La Uruca, and the price also has gone up.
When it was envisioned originally in 2005, the first stage of the valley sewer project was $250 million. The price today is $344 million. Some $45 million will be for the construction of the treatment plant.
The central government managed to obtain an additional $40 million from the Japanese Agency for International Development, bringing that country’s contribution to $175 million. Banco Nacional is putting in $75 million, and the InterAmerican Development Bank is putting up $53 million. The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the water and sewer agency known as AyA, is putting in $45 million.
Eventually the project will mean higher rates for residents. In 2005 the then-head of the water agency, Heibel Rodríguez, estimated the increase to be $8 a month.
President Laura Chinchilla, as part of her farewell tours, visited the construction site of the sewer plant three miles west of Hospital México Friday. She is visiting most of the government projects before she leaves office May 8.
The sewer project has been on the table through the administrations of at least three presidents.
The legislature stalled for months when the Japanese contribution was $135 million. The catch was that the government had to put up millions more. In the latest accounting of the financing, it appears that the central government has ducked the need to put the sewer plant project in its budget. AyA has its own budget financed by users of the services.
Just 10 years ago the site was supposed to be in Escazú. Then the site was somewhere in Tibás. The site now is at a low point in the valley adjacent to the Río Tiribí. There have been some protests by the neighbors in La Carpio.
The plant is expected to serve the cantons of San José, Tibás, Moravia, Vásquez de Coronado, Goicoechea, Montes de Oca, Curridabat, Desamparados, Escazú, Alajuelita and La Unión. Users are estimated to be some 65 percent of the population of the Central Valley.
The sewer plant is just a start. The first stage of the project called for an extensive network of sewers and even a tunnel to carry the waste water to the plant. These jobs have not started.
The sewage situation in the valley always has been an embarrassment for a country that promotes its green image.
Untreated sewage flows via tributaries into the Río Grande de Tárcoles and then into the gulf of Nicoya. That’s where a lot of the country’s sea food originates.
Many of the pipes are leaking and rusted out, and many residents use septic tanks because they are not connected to any line.