Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


BOWER, Kathleen M., Department of Geology/Geography, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Avenue, Charleston, IL 61920,

Sustainable water supplies are important for human health and continuation of human communities. It is important to examine sustainable methods of water supply in both developing and developed countries to gain maximum information for planning purposes. Costa Rica is a developing country whose populous prides themselves on caring for the environment of the country. However, this environmental care is only slowly spreading to safe and reliable water supplies. Rivers are not the preferred source of domestic water supply due to potential water contamination; mostly from untreated sewage and agricultural chemicals. The quantity and quality of groundwater supplies, the main source of domestic water, are currently under investigation by scientists of Costa Rica. 98% of the population has access to a supply of domestic water; 94% has access in the home. Only 78% of the population has consistent access to potable drinking water. Municipal water treatment currently consists of sedimentation and disinfection.

Less than 5% of sewage in Costa Rica is treated before release to the environment. The water basin of the Río Grande de Tárcoles, underlying the largest urban area of Costa Rica, is the most polluted in Central America. The country spends more for treatment of water borne diseases than it does on water supply and sewage treatment. Other potential sources of water contamination are examined.