The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados has been ordered to supply four remote native communities with drinking water within seven days.
The Sala IV constitutional court upheld an appeal from the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de la Reserva Indígena Cabécar de Talamanca. The communities involved are San Vicente, Sibuju, and San Miguel.
Also the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de la Reserva indígena Cabécar de Tayni in Estrella de Limón presented an appeal for the estimated 500 residents of Gavilán. This is a community where the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados drilled a well that produced water unfit for human consumption, said the summary of the case.
The water utility has six months to come up with a plan to drill another well. Meanwhile, within seven days the utility was told it has to bring in trucks with water or otherwise get water to the community. The state water company has said that the village in not accessible to trucks.
Community members submitted multiple requests and complaints to the utility after having to drink contaminated water for an extended period, according to a report from the Poder judicial.
When ruling on both cases, the judges agreed this was a violation of essential human rights, especially when considering a vulnerable group like the native peoples.
As in parts of Guanacaste, one of the contaminant is naturally occurring arsenic, the court noted.