August 18th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) PUSC lawmakers, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) and the Costa Rican Institute of Water and Sewers (AyA) say they are joining forces to solve the severe shortage of potable water in Atenas.
Atenas residents have been forced to survive with just three hours of running water per day, a situation being blamed on this year’s record drought.
Lawmakers said that last week’s meeting was “positive” and “helpful,” though details of how the agencies and lawmakers plan to address the situation were scarce.
Some 21,000 Atenas residents must scramble in the early morning hours to shower and wash their clothes and dishes between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. – the only hours of the day that water flows from their taps.
While a plan exists to pipe in water from Tacares de Grecia, work on the project is stalled due to lack of agreement by the National Environmental Secretariat (Setena).
Worse still, if the disagreement cannot be resolved before September 7th, the State will be forced to compensate the company behind the project, known as MECO, more than $5.5 million USD.
Meanwhile, residents continue to fill containers with water each morning in order to make it through the remaining 21 hours of each day.
Residents complain that authorities have done nothing to solve the canton’s water problems, despite “several years” of complaints. Even former president Laura Chinchilla had declared a health emergency due to Atenas’ water shortages.
The lack of water has also forced public schools in the canton to regularly suspend classes, and educators say there has been an increase in absenteeism because parents and children have no water to bathe or wash their school uniforms some mornings.
School cafeterias have also been forced to shutdown due to the lack of water, leading even more parents to keep their children home from school.