Costa Rica Faces New Water Treatment Challenges

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    The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Wastewater treatment remains a challenge for Costa Rica, a country known for being a world leader in the ecological field, but where only 3% of the water is properly treated.

    The lag is based on water sanitation results from a recent ranking from Yale University and has made the government undertake investments in treatment plants to solve the problem in the short term and long term.

    “The environmental focus of Costa Rica has been more on ‘green aspects’ and there is no doubt that we have had tremendous success in this field, making our country a world leader in the environmental field, but now we need the same determination for environmental sanitation,” said the Minister of Environment and Energy (MINAE), René Castro.

    Alarms on the environmental issue flared when Costa Rica registered a decline in the Environmental Development Index (EPI, published biennially by the Yale University, USA) by passing from 5th place in 2013 to 54th in 2014, out of a total of 178 countries.

    However, despite this data, MINAE said the country has not suffered an abrupt variation or deterioration in their environmental indices, especially in regard to forests and biodiversity.

    As explained by the institution, the drop is due to the introduction of new indicators in measuring the index, including the treatment of wastewater measurements for environmental health, regulation of agrochemicals, and human health related to air quality.

    With the new methodology applied, the more developed countries took the top spots because they have better technology and financing.

    An example is Australia, which was ranked 48 in 2012, and climbed to third place but in contrast is the case of Norway, which dropped from a 3 to 10 and France from 6 to 27. Costa Rica now has the challenge of improving on these new aspects.

    The executive director of the NGO Foundation Neotrópica, Bernardo Aguilar, stated that the fact that they have changed the EPI indicators has been an eye-opener for Costa Rica to see into other areas that were being neglected. For Aguilar, the fall in the ranking is a “slap on the wrist for what is a very important part of the environment.”

    The Ministry of Environment and Energy also said the work should be in conjunction with other national institutions, including municipalities, to invest in their water treatment systems and sewage.

    As part of efforts to achieve a healthier environment, the government is building a new treatment plant, which directly impacts the cleanliness of rivers in the metropolitan area.

    The plant, which will begin operations in 2015, has a cost of $348 million and will benefit about one million people living in the greater metropolitan area. (ACAN-EFE)

    The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

    San Jose Costa Rica

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