+
Beach sunset

we help the community address water pollution with different programs to keep the coastal waters clean

what we do

The coastal towns of Mal País, Santa Teresa, Hermosa, and Manzanillo are beautiful highly rated touristic destinations for their stunning beaches, sights, surfing, yoga, relax and fun. Pollution in our coastal towns is due mainly to inappropriate solid and waste water management: lack-of or inappropriate water treatment systems, draining of black and grey untreated waters directly into the ground and/or nearby streams, harmful farming practices on the area around the Ario river, rapid, uncontrolled and under-regulated urbanization which has generated pressure on the area’s natural resources, historically incompetent local governments, poor law-enforcement capacity. Lack of community education and awareness of how human activities are harming the environment closes this pollution cycle. We created four action lines to tackle these issues:

Water management icon

water management

what we do

Nicoya Peninsula Waterkeeper promotes changes to correct existing pollution practices. We want the community to be aware that environmentally respectful practices exist and are available for everyone to implement. We promote behavior changes that benefit present and future generations and all the beautiful invaluable natural resources that surround us. The way in which we use and dispose of water is our responsibility.

waste water management

Sewage

These rural coastal towns have grown very fast, mainly due to the rising touristic demand; unfortunately, much of this growth has happened with very little structure or respect of regulations. The impact of growing population is putting pressure on water and natural resources. The current infrastructure to manage waste deriving from the tourism sector is not enough and it’s not efficient. There is no municipal sewage treatment plant meaning that there is individual responsibility of waste water treatment. A considerable number of houses and businesses rely on septic tanks and drainages -many of them inappropriately built- as their sole water treatment system in an area with a high phreatic level.

Septic system consists of two main parts-a septic tank and a drainfield and are used to treat black water (water coming from toilets). The septic tank is a watertight box, made usually out of concrete, fiber glass or plastic, with an inlet and outlet pipe. Wastewater flows to the septic tank through the sewer pipe. The septic tank treats the wastewater naturally by holding it in the tank long enough for solids and liquids to separate. The wastewater forms three layers inside the tank. Solids lighter than water (such as greases and oils) float to the top forming a layer of scum. Solids heavier than water settle at the bottom of the tank forming a layer of sludge. This leaves a middle layer of partially clarified wastewater.

The layers of sludge and scum remain in the septic tank where bacteria found naturally in the wastewater work to break the solids down. The sludge and scum that cannot be broken down are retained in the tank until the tank is pumped. The layer of clarified liquid flows from the septic tank to the drainfield or to a distribution device, which helps to uniformly distribute the wastewater in the drainfield. A standard drainfield is a bed lined with gravel or course sand and buried one to three feet below the ground surface. Perforated pipes or drain tiles run through the trenches to distribute the wastewater. The drainfield treats the wastewater by allowing it to slowly trickle from the pipes out into the gravel and down through the soil. The gravel and soil act as biological filters.

Problems with septic systems in the area are caused by people not fully understanding how the system works and lack of proper maintenance. This leads to a lot of septic tanks built without paying attention to important waste processing requirements and using unsuitable materials. Lack of efficient regulations and inspections allow for this to happen. Another common problem here is people and businesses hiring unpermitted companies to empty their septic. These companies usually discharge their sewage sludge in abandoned properties or right into a body of water. It is important to make sure that you hire a company with all the permits and that disposes of the sludge in treatment plants. You can ask them to show you a copy of the invoice the treatment plant gives them once they discharge.

Sewage overflows pollute the environment and spread illnesses. Lack of proper sanitation systems is the source of illness and death for millions of people (6,000 children worldwide die each day as a result of inadequate sanitation). Untreated waste water not only flows into the ground, streams, and the ocean, but it also pollutes people’s wells which some use as only source of drinking water. Unbelievably, people seem to not be aware of the fact that current inappropriate water management practices are polluting the water we drink and swim in. This community relies on tourism as its main source of income and, weirdly enough, it is this same industry that is polluting the ocean. Generalized lack of education and community awareness aggravates the situation.

greywater

Water pollution

Greywater is water from the bathroom and kitchen sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines. It is not water that has come into contact with feces. Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain cleaning products. There are many simple, economical ways to reuse greywater. Aside from the obvious benefits of saving water (and money), reusing greywater reduces pressure on the septic system, thereby reducing the chance that it will pollute local water bodies.

An efficient way to "ecologically disposing" of greywater are Biogardens (known also as biofilters or wetlands). Wetlands absorb nutrients and filter particles from greywater, enabling it to be stored or sent through a properly designed system. The water passes through an excavation, with an impervious cover, filled with stones and plants that will filter the waters. Once the water meets the quality standards, it can be used for purposes which do not require potable water, irrigation for example. If you’re interested in building one, contact us and we can give you documents with information on how to build them, their functioning, and maintenance.

More information about waste water management: Waste water management guide

blue flag award on beaches

People holding Blue Flag Award

Since 2013, we have led the Blue Flag award committees for Mal País, Carmen, Santa Teresa, Hermosa, and most recently Manzanillo (registered in 2016). This award measures the cleanliness of the beach including solid waste and water quality, as well as communitarian efforts made to raise awareness of the importance of keeping the beaches clean. There are several criteria that are evaluated in order to get the award: cleanliness of the water, solid waste on the beach, signs indicating currents, education workshops, community activities to clean and raise awareness, as well as administrative work such as registering the beach, yearly working plans and activity reports.

banderaazulecologica.org

One river at a time - Danta River

One river at a time girl with rock

Together with a group of community leaders, Santa Teresa’s high school environmental group CAM, and the Ministry of Health, we registered the Danta river on the Blue Flag program in 2017. To obtain the award, certain parameters are analyzed: the quality of the water and community efforts to clean it up. In 2017, we got the award mainly due to communitarian efforts as the river’s water quality showed high levels of pollution.

Facing this situation, together with the company EM-effective microorganisms, the Alianza Nacional de Ríos y Cuencas, and the community, we organize yearly mudball gatherings at the end of the rainy season. During these events the town comes together to throw hundreds of mudballs with EM into the river to help clean the pollution in the water. It is an impactful event to raise awareness of the importance of disposing of waste water appropriately. Nevertheless, it is clear that the water in the river will be clean once the neighboring houses and businesses stop disposing of their waste water in the river.

Water quality monitoring

Water test

Together with the AyA, within the framework of the Blue Flag program beach category, we take ocean water samples 2 times a year mainly looking for fecal coliforms. Samples are taken on three different spots on each beach. Here’s the chart with the most recent water quality monitoring results for the beaches of Mal País, Carmen, Santa Teresa, Hermosa, and Manzanillo.

We have our own water quality monitoring equipment, so as of February 2019, we monitor on a monthly basis the water quality of the area’s creeks. For the most inhabited rivers, we analyze two points: one before the river receives the impact/pollution caused by neighboring houses and businesses; and the other, right before the river goes into the ocean. We want to measure the impact human activities have on the rivers. For other rivers with less surrounding population, we measure one point to get basic information of the river’s behavior. With this equipment we measure temperature, DO, pH, conductivity, ORP, phosphate, nitrate, chloride, ammonium to generate baseline data regarding our rivers’ characteristics. If any sudden unexpected change in these parameters shall happen, we will be able to notice it and analyze the event further.

We walked the 16 creeks and 2 rivers comprised between the Cabo Blanco Reserve and the Caletas-Ario Wildlife Refuge, starting at the beach and walking the river 500meters in-land to check the status of the water and state of the riparian vegetation. In general, the first 200-250 meters are the ones presenting the most damage: houses built directly on the riverbanks without respecting the regulations regarding riverbank vegetation, businesses and houses draining their wastewater directly into the rivers, inefficient septic systems which are not treating black water properly, disposal of garbage into the river, amongst other types of pollution. After the initial 200-250meters, the frequency of houses and developments lessens, less pollution is seen, and forest starts to appear. With the data generated by a constant water quality monitoring, we will be able to objectively analyze the situation and address urgent matters with baseline data.

Efficient water usage

Rain catchment tank

70% of our world is covered in water. Nevertheless, only 1% of it is drinkable. As local water resources are stretched to provide for population growth and economic development, new water supply strategies and paradigms will be necessary to meet this demand. Rainwater harvesting is an untapped resource that could be developed quickly within communities and that will also have a tremendous impact. Rainwater harvesting is part of a sustainable water supply strategy for local communities.

We created a rain water catchment system at the Santa Teresa high school to reduce water usage. Rainwater collected is being used in the school’s toilets. Hands-on workshops were held with the students and teachers, so they would understand its functioning and benefits. Hopefully, this system at the school will be an example for other rain water catchment systems in town.

Education & Awareness Raising icon

Education and awareness raising

what we do

Workshops

Workshop

Our lives are tightly bound to water. The impacts of a growing population and a changing climate are putting pressure on our water resources. This means that everyone has a role to play to ensure a sustainable water future for the area. In Costa Rica, there is a generalized culture of water over-consumption, irrational and irresponsible use. The need for water education is clear. Water issues must be addressed through greater public involvement at all socio-economic levels, among all water users.

Education and public awareness measures are essential for effective water resources management. Changes in basic behavior and practices are necessary to achieve long-term improvements in water use. Such changes will not occur until the population becomes aware of water issues and actions that lead to environmental degradation.

Through water education and awareness raising we want individuals to familiarize themselves with their watershed, to discover their role in the hydrological cycle and to recognize that water knows no boundaries, it flows through and connects us all. Nicoya Peninsula Waterkeeper facilitates and promotes awareness, appreciation, knowledge and stewardship of water resources.

We organize free workshops to educate and raise the community’s awareness on different subjects: water management, recycling, consumption habits, and in general, the importance of sustainably using the natural resources.

Activities with local schools

Girl with sticker at school

We organize workshops, movie projections, and other educational activities with school students and teachers in order to plant a seed in the next generations of adults. If humans want to continue existing, big behavior changes need to happen, as we are destroying the very own natural resources we need to live.

Waste Management icon

Solid waste management improvement

what we do

Recycling

Ariadna recycling holding a few bags

Thanks to an alliance with material engineering company BIONIC®, we built a marine and coastal plastic processing center at the Vivero Lacon in Cóbano. BIONIC® transforms plastic into high quality polymers for a wide range of applications including luggage, boardshorts, swimsuits, footwear, furniture, evening gowns, and suits.

We run weekly collection routes in Santa Teresa, Mal País, Carmen, Hermosa, Cóbano, Montezuma, and neighboring communities collecting plastic, aluminum and tin cans, glass, and tetrapack.

We all need to be responsible for the waste we generate and the way we dispose of it. Now that there’s the appropriate infrastructure to recycle, we believe the population will take advantage of this opportunity, clean this beautiful place up, and become an example nation and worldwide!

Even if we’re going after every piece of plastic out there to recycle it, we are aware that recycling is not the solution to the mounting plastic crisis we’re in. It is a solution for items that have already been consumed, but the main impact is generated by reducing its consumption. Ask yourself if you really need the item? That bag, that straw, that take-away container, etc. Are there other alternatives made out of materials with less impact? Bamboo tooth brushes, cloth pins, q-tips. Reduce, reuse, recycle…in that order!

The Municipal collection system will not collect non-traditional waste (like broken appliances, furniture, construction waste), its disposal is responsibility of the one generating it. Check this list with some of the area’s non-traditional waste managers.

For more info, contact Ariadna Sánchez: ariadnawaterkeeper@gmail.com

Beach clean-ups

Children cleaning beach

Together with different organized groups in the neighboring communities, we organize and participate in beach clean-ups on a regular basis. It is exciting to see how the number of volunteers from the community, visitors, local surfcamps, and other non-profit organizations, continues growing. Together we can make a difference! Beach clean-ups are very important not just to get the garbage out of the beach, but also to raise the awareness of the participants regarding consumption habits and daily choices. Once we see how many of the products we consume end up polluting the beach, a bigger issue comes up. Do we really need to consume that? Is there a less polluting alternative? What changes can I make to produce less garbage?

Want to join a clean-up? Contact Ariadna Sánchez: ariadnawaterkeeper@gmail.com

Want to organize a clean-up with your friends, family or neighbors? Contact us so we can support you on how the garbage should be sorted to make sure most of the collected materials get recycled!

All collected recyclable materials are processed at the WATERKEEPER®- BIONIC® recycling center in Cobano!

Composting

Composte

According to national statistics, more than 50% of the garbage we generate is organic waste. We encourage composting organic waste, to reduce the amount of waste ending up on landfills, avoid foul smells, and also prevent the jungle animals from tearing the garbage bags. We work together with our friends from Casa Pampa, a local non-profit with very valuable experience and information on composting. Together with Proyecto CAM, they run a community composting project at the Santa Teresa public high school and they are working on a District composting strategy.

Law Enforcement icon

Advocacy and law enforcement

what we do

Advocacy

Glasses and papers on desk

Costa Rica’s water law dates from 1942 and is clearly not suitable for the country’s current context and needs. Ineffective government regulation concerning water and waste management along with the increase in human waste and sewage pollution resulting from population growth and urbanization, have had serious consequences for ground and surface water quality.

The area’s scenic beauty has brought about development, boosting tourism and creating jobs. The environmental health of the coastal ecosystems is essential for the subsistence of the touristic sector. Tourism facilities’ owners, and in general, individuals in the community need to be aware that maintaining the quality of the water is, to a great extent, a responsibility of us all living in the community. If we keep polluting it, we will destroy it.

This context calls for advocacy to be done in two fronts: before government authorities, to demand appropriate water and sanitation regulations and services; and before polluters, to enforce the compliance of existing laws and regulations regarding water.

If you see or know of any pollution issues, please contact us! We will follow up on each case to protect the waters we all use and enjoy.

Law enforcement

Signing papers

We file claims before the Ministry of Health, who is in-charge of regulating water management. Unfortunately, their capacity to monitor and ensure compliance is very low or non-existent. Do people really need the Ministry of Health to come and check how they dispose of waste water? Do people really need to be issued a sanitary order to make their water treatment systems work properly? Unfortunately, most people do. Unexplainably, human dependence on water doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason to protect it.

If you see or know of any pollution issues, please contact us! We will follow up on each case to protect the waters we all use and enjoy.

Capacity building

Team meeting at school

We are founding members of the Municipal Solid Waste Management Commission (MIRS) who worked on creating the Municipal Solid Waste Management Plan and its By-Laws and is constantly supporting the Municipality on solving their ongoing garbage collection and disposal issues.

We work together with the Ministry of Health looking for short, mid, and long-term solutions to waste water management.

Water management icon

water management

what we do

Nicoya Peninsula Waterkeeper promotes changes to correct existing pollution practices. We want the community to be aware that environmentally respectful practices exist and are available for everyone to implement. We promote behavior changes that benefit present and future generations and all the beautiful invaluable natural resources that surround us. The way in which we use and dispose of water is our responsibility.

waste water management

Sewage

These rural coastal towns have grown very fast, mainly due to the rising touristic demand; unfortunately, much of this growth has happened with very little structure or respect of regulations. The impact of growing population is putting pressure on water and natural resources. The current infrastructure to manage waste deriving from the tourism sector is not enough and it’s not efficient. There is no municipal sewage treatment plant meaning that there is individual responsibility of waste water treatment. A considerable number of houses and businesses rely on septic tanks and drainages -many of them inappropriately built- as their sole water treatment system in an area with a high phreatic level.

Septic system consists of two main parts-a septic tank and a drainfield and are used to treat black water (water coming from toilets). The septic tank is a watertight box, made usually out of concrete, fiber glass or plastic, with an inlet and outlet pipe. Wastewater flows to the septic tank through the sewer pipe. The septic tank treats the wastewater naturally by holding it in the tank long enough for solids and liquids to separate. The wastewater forms three layers inside the tank. Solids lighter than water (such as greases and oils) float to the top forming a layer of scum. Solids heavier than water settle at the bottom of the tank forming a layer of sludge. This leaves a middle layer of partially clarified wastewater.

The layers of sludge and scum remain in the septic tank where bacteria found naturally in the wastewater work to break the solids down. The sludge and scum that cannot be broken down are retained in the tank until the tank is pumped. The layer of clarified liquid flows from the septic tank to the drainfield or to a distribution device, which helps to uniformly distribute the wastewater in the drainfield. A standard drainfield is a bed lined with gravel or course sand and buried one to three feet below the ground surface. Perforated pipes or drain tiles run through the trenches to distribute the wastewater. The drainfield treats the wastewater by allowing it to slowly trickle from the pipes out into the gravel and down through the soil. The gravel and soil act as biological filters.

Problems with septic systems in the area are caused by people not fully understanding how the system works and lack of proper maintenance. This leads to a lot of septic tanks built without paying attention to important waste processing requirements and using unsuitable materials. Lack of efficient regulations and inspections allow for this to happen. Another common problem here is people and businesses hiring unpermitted companies to empty their septic. These companies usually discharge their sewage sludge in abandoned properties or right into a body of water. It is important to make sure that you hire a company with all the permits and that disposes of the sludge in treatment plants. You can ask them to show you a copy of the invoice the treatment plant gives them once they discharge.

Sewage overflows pollute the environment and spread illnesses. Lack of proper sanitation systems is the source of illness and death for millions of people (6,000 children worldwide die each day as a result of inadequate sanitation). Untreated waste water not only flows into the ground, streams, and the ocean, but it also pollutes people’s wells which some use as only source of drinking water. Unbelievably, people seem to not be aware of the fact that current inappropriate water management practices are polluting the water we drink and swim in. This community relies on tourism as its main source of income and, weirdly enough, it is this same industry that is polluting the ocean. Generalized lack of education and community awareness aggravates the situation.

greywater

Water pollution

Greywater is water from the bathroom and kitchen sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines. It is not water that has come into contact with feces. Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain cleaning products. There are many simple, economical ways to reuse greywater. Aside from the obvious benefits of saving water (and money), reusing greywater reduces pressure on the septic system, thereby reducing the chance that it will pollute local water bodies.

An efficient way to "ecologically disposing" of greywater are Biogardens (known also as biofilters or wetlands). Wetlands absorb nutrients and filter particles from greywater, enabling it to be stored or sent through a properly designed system. The water passes through an excavation, with an impervious cover, filled with stones and plants that will filter the waters. Once the water meets the quality standards, it can be used for purposes which do not require potable water, irrigation for example. If you’re interested in building one, contact us and we can give you documents with information on how to build them, their functioning, and maintenance.

More information about waste water management: Waste water management guide

blue flag award on beaches

People holding Blue Flag Award

Since 2013, we have led the Blue Flag award committees for Mal País, Carmen, Santa Teresa, Hermosa, and most recently Manzanillo (registered in 2016). This award measures the cleanliness of the beach including solid waste and water quality, as well as communitarian efforts made to raise awareness of the importance of keeping the beaches clean. There are several criteria that are evaluated in order to get the award: cleanliness of the water, solid waste on the beach, signs indicating currents, education workshops, community activities to clean and raise awareness, as well as administrative work such as registering the beach, yearly working plans and activity reports.

banderaazulecologica.org

One river at a time - Danta River

One river at a time girl with rock

Together with a group of community leaders, Santa Teresa’s high school environmental group CAM, and the Ministry of Health, we registered the Danta river on the Blue Flag program in 2017. To obtain the award, certain parameters are analyzed: the quality of the water and community efforts to clean it up. In 2017, we got the award mainly due to communitarian efforts as the river’s water quality showed high levels of pollution.

Facing this situation, together with the company EM-effective microorganisms, the Alianza Nacional de Ríos y Cuencas, and the community, we organize yearly mudball gatherings at the end of the rainy season. During these events the town comes together to throw hundreds of mudballs with EM into the river to help clean the pollution in the water. It is an impactful event to raise awareness of the importance of disposing of waste water appropriately. Nevertheless, it is clear that the water in the river will be clean once the neighboring houses and businesses stop disposing of their waste water in the river.

Water quality monitoring

Water test

Together with the AyA, within the framework of the Blue Flag program beach category, we take ocean water samples 2 times a year mainly looking for fecal coliforms. Samples are taken on three different spots on each beach. Here’s the chart with the most recent water quality monitoring results for the beaches of Mal País, Carmen, Santa Teresa, Hermosa, and Manzanillo.

We have our own water quality monitoring equipment, so as of February 2019, we monitor on a monthly basis the water quality of the area’s creeks. For the most inhabited rivers, we analyze two points: one before the river receives the impact/pollution caused by neighboring houses and businesses; and the other, right before the river goes into the ocean. We want to measure the impact human activities have on the rivers. For other rivers with less surrounding population, we measure one point to get basic information of the river’s behavior. With this equipment we measure temperature, DO, pH, conductivity, ORP, phosphate, nitrate, chloride, ammonium to generate baseline data regarding our rivers’ characteristics. If any sudden unexpected change in these parameters shall happen, we will be able to notice it and analyze the event further.

We walked the 16 creeks and 2 rivers comprised between the Cabo Blanco Reserve and the Caletas-Ario Wildlife Refuge, starting at the beach and walking the river 500meters in-land to check the status of the water and state of the riparian vegetation. In general, the first 200-250 meters are the ones presenting the most damage: houses built directly on the riverbanks without respecting the regulations regarding riverbank vegetation, businesses and houses draining their wastewater directly into the rivers, inefficient septic systems which are not treating black water properly, disposal of garbage into the river, amongst other types of pollution. After the initial 200-250meters, the frequency of houses and developments lessens, less pollution is seen, and forest starts to appear. With the data generated by a constant water quality monitoring, we will be able to objectively analyze the situation and address urgent matters with baseline data.

Efficient water usage

Rain catchment tank

70% of our world is covered in water. Nevertheless, only 1% of it is drinkable. As local water resources are stretched to provide for population growth and economic development, new water supply strategies and paradigms will be necessary to meet this demand. Rainwater harvesting is an untapped resource that could be developed quickly within communities and that will also have a tremendous impact. Rainwater harvesting is part of a sustainable water supply strategy for local communities.

We created a rain water catchment system at the Santa Teresa high school to reduce water usage. Rainwater collected is being used in the school’s toilets. Hands-on workshops were held with the students and teachers, so they would understand its functioning and benefits. Hopefully, this system at the school will be an example for other rain water catchment systems in town.

Education & Awareness Raising icon

Education and awareness raising

what we do

Workshops

Workshop

Our lives are tightly bound to water. The impacts of a growing population and a changing climate are putting pressure on our water resources. This means that everyone has a role to play to ensure a sustainable water future for the area. In Costa Rica, there is a generalized culture of water over-consumption, irrational and irresponsible use. The need for water education is clear. Water issues must be addressed through greater public involvement at all socio-economic levels, among all water users.

Education and public awareness measures are essential for effective water resources management. Changes in basic behavior and practices are necessary to achieve long-term improvements in water use. Such changes will not occur until the population becomes aware of water issues and actions that lead to environmental degradation.

Through water education and awareness raising we want individuals to familiarize themselves with their watershed, to discover their role in the hydrological cycle and to recognize that water knows no boundaries, it flows through and connects us all. Nicoya Peninsula Waterkeeper facilitates and promotes awareness, appreciation, knowledge and stewardship of water resources.

We organize free workshops to educate and raise the community’s awareness on different subjects: water management, recycling, consumption habits, and in general, the importance of sustainably using the natural resources.

Activities with local schools

Girl with sticker at school

We organize workshops, movie projections, and other educational activities with school students and teachers in order to plant a seed in the next generations of adults. If humans want to continue existing, big behavior changes need to happen, as we are destroying the very own natural resources we need to live.

Waste Management icon

Solid waste management improvement

what we do

Recycling

Ariadna recycling holding a few bags

Thanks to an alliance with material engineering company BIONIC®, we built a marine and coastal plastic processing center at the Vivero Lacon in Cóbano. BIONIC® transforms plastic into high quality polymers for a wide range of applications including luggage, boardshorts, swimsuits, footwear, furniture, evening gowns, and suits.

We run weekly collection routes in Santa Teresa, Mal País, Carmen, Hermosa, Cóbano, Montezuma, and neighboring communities collecting plastic, aluminum and tin cans, glass, and tetrapack.

We all need to be responsible for the waste we generate and the way we dispose of it. Now that there’s the appropriate infrastructure to recycle, we believe the population will take advantage of this opportunity, clean this beautiful place up, and become an example nation and worldwide!

Even if we’re going after every piece of plastic out there to recycle it, we are aware that recycling is not the solution to the mounting plastic crisis we’re in. It is a solution for items that have already been consumed, but the main impact is generated by reducing its consumption. Ask yourself if you really need the item? That bag, that straw, that take-away container, etc. Are there other alternatives made out of materials with less impact? Bamboo tooth brushes, cloth pins, q-tips. Reduce, reuse, recycle…in that order!

The Municipal collection system will not collect non-traditional waste (like broken appliances, furniture, construction waste), its disposal is responsibility of the one generating it. Check this list with some of the area’s non-traditional waste managers.

For more info, contact Ariadna Sánchez: ariadnawaterkeeper@gmail.com

Beach clean-ups

Children cleaning beach

Together with different organized groups in the neighboring communities, we organize and participate in beach clean-ups on a regular basis. It is exciting to see how the number of volunteers from the community, visitors, local surfcamps, and other non-profit organizations, continues growing. Together we can make a difference! Beach clean-ups are very important not just to get the garbage out of the beach, but also to raise the awareness of the participants regarding consumption habits and daily choices. Once we see how many of the products we consume end up polluting the beach, a bigger issue comes up. Do we really need to consume that? Is there a less polluting alternative? What changes can I make to produce less garbage?

Want to join a clean-up? Contact Ariadna Sánchez: ariadnawaterkeeper@gmail.com

Want to organize a clean-up with your friends, family or neighbors? Contact us so we can support you on how the garbage should be sorted to make sure most of the collected materials get recycled!

All collected recyclable materials are processed at the WATERKEEPER®- BIONIC® recycling center in Cobano!

Composting

Composte

According to national statistics, more than 50% of the garbage we generate is organic waste. We encourage composting organic waste, to reduce the amount of waste ending up on landfills, avoid foul smells, and also prevent the jungle animals from tearing the garbage bags. We work together with our friends from Casa Pampa, a local non-profit with very valuable experience and information on composting. Together with Proyecto CAM, they run a community composting project at the Santa Teresa public high school and they are working on a District composting strategy.

Law Enforcement icon

Advocacy and law enforcement

what we do

Advocacy

Glasses and papers on desk

Costa Rica’s water law dates from 1942 and is clearly not suitable for the country’s current context and needs. Ineffective government regulation concerning water and waste management along with the increase in human waste and sewage pollution resulting from population growth and urbanization, have had serious consequences for ground and surface water quality.

The area’s scenic beauty has brought about development, boosting tourism and creating jobs. The environmental health of the coastal ecosystems is essential for the subsistence of the touristic sector. Tourism facilities’ owners, and in general, individuals in the community need to be aware that maintaining the quality of the water is, to a great extent, a responsibility of us all living in the community. If we keep polluting it, we will destroy it.

This context calls for advocacy to be done in two fronts: before government authorities, to demand appropriate water and sanitation regulations and services; and before polluters, to enforce the compliance of existing laws and regulations regarding water.

If you see or know of any pollution issues, please contact us! We will follow up on each case to protect the waters we all use and enjoy.

Law enforcement

Signing papers

We file claims before the Ministry of Health, who is in-charge of regulating water management. Unfortunately, their capacity to monitor and ensure compliance is very low or non-existent. Do people really need the Ministry of Health to come and check how they dispose of waste water? Do people really need to be issued a sanitary order to make their water treatment systems work properly? Unfortunately, most people do. Unexplainably, human dependence on water doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason to protect it.

If you see or know of any pollution issues, please contact us! We will follow up on each case to protect the waters we all use and enjoy.

Capacity building

Team meeting at school

We are founding members of the Municipal Solid Waste Management Commission (MIRS) who worked on creating the Municipal Solid Waste Management Plan and its By-Laws and is constantly supporting the Municipality on solving their ongoing garbage collection and disposal issues.

We work together with the Ministry of Health looking for short, mid, and long-term solutions to waste water management.

Beach clean-ups data icon

beach clean-ups ~ 2019

our progress

"Every material we found on the beach is properly disposed or recycled"

1.896,5

kilos of waste taken

303

volunteers

153

planted trees
Recycling data icon

Recycling

our progress

In 5 months of formal recycling collection:

40.236

kilos of waste recovered of which:

7.564,3

plastic

2.729,75

metal

28.383

glass

685

polylaminate

873

other plastics and garbage

207

businesses and institutions affiliated to the recycling program

70

residences affiliated to the recycling program
Water data icon

water

our progress

17

rivers monitored by month

30

complaints about water treatment to the Ministry of Health in 2018

50

Educational talks about water and solid waste

4

Blue Flag Awards in 4 beaches

3000

trees planted in riverside areas

we help the community address water pollution with different programs to keep the coastal waters clean

River graphic

see our progress

clean waters always!

See all our stories.