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Repair Of Storm-damaged Aqueducts Will Be Financed With Increases In Water Rates

In Cedral Abajo de Aserrí, where the Acosta aqueduct is located and some two kilometers of pipeline was completely destroyed by tropical strom Nate. Complicating repairs is the serious damage to the access road. Foto: Rafael Pacheco

The repair of the storm-damaged aqueducts will be covered by increases in water rates, announced the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA) – the water and sewer utility.

The president of the AyA, Yamileth Astorga, confirmed that increases in rates will finance the repair of at least 37 aqueducts that suffered severe damage from tropical storm Nate.

The utility chief said that it is still difficult to have an estimate of the cost, as they are only at the inspection stage and priority is being given to get bringing drinking water back to the most affected areas.

“In AyA we live on the charge to our users, all these investments will have to be presented to the Aresep (regulator of prices and services), where within the same tariff law that allows the possibility to raise rates due to the unpredictability of situations,” said Astorga.

However, the AyA had already tried to use this article of the Public Services Regulatory Authority Act (Aresep) to finance projects that would mitigate the lack of water in Guanacaste, but the process was paralyzed by an appeal that finally resulted in the AyA being unsuccessful in obtaining a rate hike.

Astorga said that in this case, because of the urgency of the matter, the AyA is not waiting for the rate increase to start with the repairs, and in some cases re-construction, and will have to use funds from other works and then offset with a rate increase.

Astorga explained due to the extent of the damage caused by Nate to the drinking water infrastructure some 300,000 people still do not have running water.

In some cases, the damage is so extent that a complete reconstruction is required. The AyA head cited one example, Acosta.

There, the flooded river completely destroyed the plant and some two kilometers of pipeline. The main problem in Acosta is that the access road to the aqueduct was mostly destroyed by stones and debris dragged by the river, creating an obstacle for work crews and getting material to the site.

Complicating the situation in Acosta is the downed power line and electric cables on the ground.

The Acosta aqueduct serves some 4,000 people and is just one example of the challenged faced by the AyA.

In Acosta, water cisterns deliver water and then in drums to get drinking water to remove communities. Foto: Rafael Pacheco

In many of the affected areas, drinking water is being delivered by tanker trucks. However, difficulties of access to villages make the transfer by water with cisterns also complicated. In some communities, 4×4 vehicles are being used to carry water in drums and other containers.