A report by Laura Alvarado for the Costa Rica Star.
Tortuguero National Park in the Costa Rican North Caribbean is known as an ecological paradise, a place where different species of sea turtles find a nesting refuge and many national and international tourists visit every year looking for a small taste of a lost paradise; however, community leaders in the area have raised their voice to alert of a contamination problem with sewage waters that has been affecting the area.
Tortuguero Lodge and Gardens informed through a post on their Facebook page:
“Tortuguero is living with a time bomb: the wastewater of 2000 inhabitants and *200 000 visitors a year that goes directly from the houses and businesses to the beautiful canals, without any kind of treatment.
Tortuga Lodge & Gardens is one of only two hotels in the area that treats its wastewater, we have had a very efficient biodigester since 2007, but such a system would not work for the whole town.
We have recently started a campaign to create consciousness on what would happen if the river becomes a giant sewer and the effects that would have among the different species, whether aquatic or not, and for the people whether they are locals or visitors. Hoping we can get everyone on board of the project to build a Wastewater Treatment Plant for the town of Tortuguero.”
(*According to data by the Costa Rica Tourism Institute, Tortuguero receives close to 58 thousand tourists every year.)
Locals are concerned of the repercussions this could have on the environment as well as in their own health and how it could affect tourism in the area, the bad smell alone becomes a problem.
Enrique Obando and Diego Blanco from tour company Costa Rica Expeditions stated in an interview with local news site CRHOY. “We are concerned about this becoming unmanageable, and that it could generate and outbreak that affects those who reside here as well as tourist”.
The representatives of Costa Rica Expeditions confirm they presented a proposal to the park administration for a possible solution which involves raising money with night tours and jaguar sighting tours which must be authorized by the park administration, the funds would go into building a wastewater treatment plant; however they have not yet received a response.
Local leaders also report that the National System of Conservation Areas and representatives of the Tortuguero Conservation Area are aware of the situation and have chosen to invest in other matters that are not nearly as urgent as a wastewater treatment plant, such is the case of new trails in the park.
“We are clear that this might not be enough, but perhaps we can seek financing through international organisms that aim to protect National Parks”, concluded Obando.