May 23rd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA) has responded to the Constitutional Court regarding arsenic contamination of the water supply in several communities in Guanacaste and San Carlos.
In its response, AyA recognized that the water supplies were indeed contaminated, but said that the situation is not the fault of the institution, nor is it responsible for the emergency health decree issued by President Chinchilla and the Ministry of Health last year.
AyA manager Javier Vargas said that the high level of arsenic in the water was not the product of any actions or negligence on the part of AyA, saying instead that the problem is “due to a fact of nature.”
“It is important to note that the presence of arsenic in the water is not due to any action of the institution […] but is believed to come from natural sources, so it is a situation that must be addressed in an integrated, inter-agency manner, and must be dealt with locally, regionally, and nationally,” Vargas continued.
Vargas’s claim, however, is in contrast with a report issued by the School of Geology at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), which said that it would take at least another year to determine the source of the contamination.
Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court (Sala IV) issued a Writ of Amparo against President Laura Chinchilla and various government agencies last month because they have failed to do anything about the fact that various water supplies in Guanacaste and northern Costa Rica contain dangerous levels of arsenic, even though the President declared the situation an emergency more than a year ago.
The affected communities include Bagaces, La Cruz, and Cañas in Guanacaste, as well as San Carlos, Alajuela.
The problem was recognized by both President Chinchilla and the Minister of Health when they signed an Executive Decree in March of last year, calling the situation a “health emergency.”