June 16th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Twenty-seven cantons in Costa Rica, or 33% of the total, have indefinitely stopped issuing building permits as a result of a lack of potable water supply, paralyzing construction in many areas, according to a recent report.
Seven of the cantons who have ceased issuing building permits are cantons of San José: Alajuelita, Mora, Puriscal, Desamparados, Acosta, Aserrí and Coronado, in addition to some areas of Escazu and Santa Ana.
Also affected are several areas popular with tourists and expats, such as the cantons of Carillo and La Cruz in Guanacaste, Perez Zeledon, Osa, Atenas and others.
Karen Porras, director of the National Union of Local Governments (UNGL), said the problem is not only a product of poor city planning, but also a lack of support from the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA).
Porras argues that government resources provided to AyA should be directed instead directly to municipalities in order to solve their own water problems.
For his part, Guillermo Carazo, president of the Chamber of Construction, disagrees. Carazo said there is plenty of water, but the “fragmented” administration of water supplies, whereas some municipalities control their own supplies while others depend upon AyA, is the cause of the problem.
Carazo believes these water systems should be placed under the control of just two or three specialized institutions throughout the country.
“The crisis is recurrent. If there is a [canton] that cannot meet its demand for water, the land has no economic value. The State works to attract investment and when it does, developers are told there is no water,” Carazo said.