Water In Costa Rica, Part Two

If you ask the World Bank or one of the mega-water corporations (e.g., Coke, Nestle, Vivendi), fresh drinking water is a commodity. If you ask virtually everyone else in the world (including the United Nations), fresh drinking water is a basic human right. Whether it is the encroachment of privatization or Nicaragua’s plan to divert the San Juan River[1], water in Costa Rica is an increasingly lively topic.

Water is a necessity.

One of the most popular questions for potential property owners is, “What is the water situation for this property?” Most of these new investors come from North America and Europe, areas that have hundreds of years of infrastructure development.  However, this southern Pacific region of Costa Rica is still early in the cycle of development.  We continue to see rapid growth in communications (cell phones and high speed internet), power (high tension power lines), and roads (the newly paved Costanera between Quepos and Dominical).  That being said, cell phones are a luxury, but water… is a necessity.

Property In A Development

Most quality developments have a water system that has been installed by the developer.  The most common sources for these systems are high flowing springs, and in some cases surface water (e.g., creeks and rivers).  Some developments, like Osa Estates in Uvita, even have back-up systems and extensive water storage capabilities.  The interesting thing is very few developments actually have a concession (permission to extract water from the ground).  The good news is the majority of them are “in process”.  Either way, the developer usually provides the property owner a prevista (water right document) which guarantees use of water into the future (assuming the property owner is in compliance with established CC&Rs and other laws).  Proof of a water document, like a prevista, is also required by the local Municipality before they will approve any construction project on a property.

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Houses In Our Future

For those with construction experience and a desire to build houses in a foreign country, this where there may be money to be made. The crystal ball formula is– buy a cheap ocean view lot, no more than 10 minutes from the Costanera (our paved coastal highway), and build an affordable house with a swimming pool. The main question we anticipate from potential builders is…

Uproar Over Project Shut Downs

Yesterday started off as a typical, glorious Costa Rica morning. Rod and I got an early start with San Buenas Golf Resort Project Manager Larry Breau, walking the golf course project. This involved a drive from our Uvita Costa Rica office towards the south about 20 minutes. There was a slight delay in travelling south due to to ICE (pronounced ee-say), which is the monopolistic agency here in Costa Rica in charge of telecommunications. They are running a new grid of lines to accommodate the rapid growth in the zone. No problem, just a 5 minute wait.

We had a full morning of rubber boots, machetes, broad rimmed hats and a liter of water reviewing the project.

In driving back to the office we encountered a line of cars backed up. Thinking it was ICE we sat patiently waiting. A number of people had turned off their cars and were milling about in the road, talking, some with exaggerated arm gestures. One gal walked by and upon seeing the lighter shade of our skin (assuming that meant English is spoken) she approached us and asked what the hold up was. We very authoritatively informed her what was going on with ICE. Turns out we were dead wrong. This was a road block caused by angry protesters out in front of Crystal Ballena, a local hotel and restaurant where a high level meeting was in its second day.

Costa Rica government officials met with developers and the local Osa government departments to discuss some of the project closures that were the result of an inspection sweep

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