September 30th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The Ministry of Health is placing barrels filled with rusty nails as water filters in homes in Bagaces, one of the communities that has been hardest-hit by arsenic contamination in its water supply.
The barrels – the size of a large garbage can, are filled with rusty nails, sand, clay, and stone.
The measure comes after the Constitutional Court ruled in June that steps had to be taken to address the problems of arsenic contamination in the water supplies of several communities in Guanacaste and San Carlos.
The makeshift filters, used in countries like Uganda and Nicaragua, have been given to about 500 homes, schools and businesses. 500 more will be distributed in Cañas.
The Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA) says the measure is only temporary.
The filter consists of a container about the size of a large wastebasket that is filled with five kilograms of rusty nails, in addition to sand, clay, and stone, which is then filled with water. The water then exits the system via a tube of PVC connected to a spigot, allowing the user to fill up buckets of filtered water.
However, not everyone is happy with the solution.
Many residents don’t believe the units function in removing arsenic. Others complain that the rusty nails add a bad taste to the water. Some residents have refused to have them put in their homes, while others have returned them, though authorities claim the makeshift filters remove up to 95% of arsenic.