Costa Rica is known for many things, including cascading waterfalls, the ocean, and beautiful lakes. However, like many other regions around the world, this Central American country is facing challenges due to climate change. Many people fear an environmental disaster as sea levels rise, species of animals become extinct, polar ice caps melt, and the number of floods and droughts increase, among other consequences.
Costa Rica is seeing major changes due to weather. Two of the most obvious phenomenon are the ongoing serious storms and, of course, the effects of El Nino. However, as each year passes, another concern has been raised pertaining to long periods of drought and the impact they are having on the country.
Droughts are of great concern since 8.1 percent of Costa Rica’s GDP in 2015 was agriculture. Although long periods of drought also impact humans, the sector affected the most by droughts is agriculture. With no water, crops and the rainforest struggle to survive. For those reasons, water and legal protections are extremely important to ensure these resources continue to thrive.
While the Water Law in Costa Rica, also known as Ley de Aguas, helps regulate the use of water, the problem is that it has very little respect. As a result, a number of water sources are being used illegally, putting this resource at great risk.
The Water Law
With a few exceptions, the Water Law of Costa Rica is owned and administered by the state, meaning this entity is the only one with authority over water sources and their use. Governing this natural resource is a mechanism of concessions that give the right to use specific sources. For instance, someone is granted permission to use a specific amount of water for a determined activity and amount of time.
For each case, the concession puts limitations on water use as to who can use it, the amount of usage, and the length of the time available. Even the location for water use falls under the concession. Overall, water use is granted for a particular property. If the owner purchases an adjacent plot, water for the second piece of land would be prohibited.
Using water illegally in Costa Rica comes with consequences. Once someone has been given a set percentage in the concession but uses a water source without having the appropriate permit, someone living nearby could get a concession, stopping the person from getting water on his or her own. Another issue has to do with illegally functioning wells. If someone builds a legal well within close proximity to one that is illegal, the illegal well would probably close despite the fact that it existed first.
Even more serious is the potential for criminal charges for someone without a water concession or a person with a permit that was expired and never renewed. For this crime, an individual could receive up to a two-year jail sentence, as well as a hefty fine.
Because humans and economic activities rely on water, protection from the state is critical. The bottom line is that people in Costa Rica are urged to use water legally by obtaining a concession.
In spite of climate change and water concessions, Costa Rica continues to draw people in. For those interested in living in this Central American country, Coldwell Banker is the most trusted source. With our years of global experience and expertise, we can find the ideal place for you to live here.