President Luis Guillermo Solís has issued a decree protecting the Río Pacuare on the Caribbean coast and the Río Savegre, which empties into the Pacific.
Solís signed the document at a fiesta during his tour of the Caribbean coast this weekend.
The decree prohibits the construction of hydro projects of more than 500 kilowatt generating capacity for 25 years. The decree also orders the Dirección Nacional de Aguas and the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental to shelve any pending requests for permits. However, Casa Presidencial said without clarification that existing rights would be protected.
The Pacuare has its headwaters in the Talamanca mountains and then runs 108 kilometers (about 67 miles) to the Caribbean.
The Savegre has a 41-kilometer (25.5 miles) course that runs through Dota, Tarrazú, Pérez Zeledón and Quepos.
A number of firms have filed applications to build small generating projects along Costa Rica’s rivers. The applications are being contested by environmentalists and also the established state power generator.