UN Global Compact  |  CEO Water Mandate

Great Britain Colombia Brazil


<% join_label %>


Show Full Map
Area: 5888268 km2
Brazil; Peru; Suriname; France; Colombia; Guyana; Bolivia; Venezuela; Ecuador
Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
HydroBasin Level:
Baseline Water Stress:
Water Quality Stress:
Sanitation Access Stress:
Click to view individual basin.
Click Icon to Show on Map
City & Country

Water-Related Challenge Costs

Total annual estimated cost to address all water-related challenges: $856,798,632.00

Share of total annual estimated cost to address each individual challenge (2015 $USD):

  • Access to Drinking Water: $197,580,724.00 - [23%]
  • Access to Sanitation: $193,826,659.00 - [23%]
  • Industrial Pollution: $27,299,588.00 - [3%]
  • Agricultural Pollution: $262,783,203.00 - [31%]
  • Water Scarcity: $32,508,685.00 - [4%]
  • Water Management: $142,799,772.00 - [17%]

For more about this data, see information on WRI’s Achieving Abundance dataset here.

Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

Access to Water Supply and Water Services
Compliance with Local Regulations and Widely-Accepted Standards
Local Water Resource Governance
Physical water supply
Water Demand and Competition among Users
Water Pricing

Country Overview

1.1.1.WATER RESOURCES The availability of surface water varies markedly from east to west. The eastern Atlantic part of the country has water basins covering 15,000km2, many flowing rivers and abundant water resources overall. Thirteen major watersheds, making up 91 per cent of the land area, discharge into the Atlantic from this side. In contrast, the Pacific western side of the country has water basins covering only 4,000km2, rivers less than 20km in length and with lower flows. There are eight watersheds that account for 9 per cent of the land area and drain to the Pacific Ocean. Annual internal renewable water resources stand at 189.7km3, with 6.9km3 of shared water from the San Juan River which forms the border with Costa Rica. Because water has been so abundant and demand is low, there are no treaties for joint use. However, the Cañas-Jerez Treaty of 1858 established Nicaragua’s sovereignty over the San Juan River and has sparked conflict between Nicaragua and Costa Rica over the years. Groundwater is more abundant on the Pacific side with relatively less in the central and Atlantic regions. On the Pacific side, permeable volcanic soil favours water infiltration and the formation of aquifers or “lagoons” with great output potential. In an average year, 42km3 of water infiltrates these aquifers, and 16km3/yr can be easily exploited for use. Nicaragua’s wealth of surface water is found in the two largest lakes in Central America. Lake Managua or “Xolotlán” is 1,052.9km2 and 37.8m above sea level; it is quite contaminated. The other lake is the very large Lake Nicaragua/Cocibolca, with an area of 8,143.7km2. Lake Colcibolca occupies the middle section of the tectonic valley shared with two other watersheds: Lake Xolotlán and the San Juan River. This area forms the largest international drainage basin in Central America, with an area of 41,600km2, of which 70 per cent or 29,000km2 is in Nicaragua and 12,600km2 or 30 per cent in Costa Rica. Because these two lakes are so big, approximately 3,000mm of water is lost to evaporation each year. There are another 18 lakes, nine in the Pacific region, five in the Central region and four in the Atlantic region. There are also four reservoirs: three for hydroelectric purposes and one for irrigation and fish farming.

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH Major environmental problems in Nicaragua include: deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution. Water quality in Nicaragua was monitored from 1971 to 1986. For economic reasons, this stopped in 1986. Since then, the only information available on water quality is from site-specific studies. It has been recommended that an environmental water monitoring system is established to monitor water quality. Much of the research and data on water quality in Nicaragua focuses on the health and condition of Lake Colicbolca and the San Juan River because of their importance in terms of water supply, shipping, transportation, hydroelectric potential and irrigation. Sedimentation, shipping and untreated wastewater have transformed Lake Colibolca and the San Juan River into highly contaminated waterways, with noticeably deteriorating water quality. Solving these problems poses a significant challenge. Agricultural practices such as burning vegetation in the area around Lake Colcibolca have resulted in significant sedimentation. The sediments flowing into the lake are volcanic and become clay when mixed with water, forming an impermeable layer of sediment. Ships and boats are also a significant source of pollution, as they’re washed and serviced in the water. Hydrocarbon residue, agricultural chemicals, basic grains and animal excrement are polluting the lake and river. Untreated municipal and industrial wastewater threatens water quality too. Most people discharge their used water into the lake, river or streams with no treatment.

(Water Risk Filter) 

Latest updates

No current notifications are found for the projects, organizations, and other topics you are currently following.


Country Water Profile

Coming Soon

Organizations in Nicaragua

Promover la gestión de conocimiento entre los profesionales e instituciones en centro américa y el caribe Learn More

Transformar la gestión del riego y el cuidado del agua a través de soluciones tecnológicas integrales. Nos enfocamos en tres pilares fundamentales: 1) maximizar la eficiencia hídrica en la agricultura sostenible, 2) facilitar la compra de créditos de compensación de … Learn More

To empower small, rural communities of Nicaragua develop and maintain access to safe drinking water To preserve and protect the watersheds that provide water to these communities To educate these communities about health and hygiene so that they achieve the … Learn More

The Agua Somos Water Fund was created as a water conservation mechanism for Bogotá, with the objective of being an efficient financial tool to administer the necessary resources to implement conservation actions that will guarantee the maintenance and provision of … Learn More

"We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the Earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe, atomically." Neil deGrasse Tyson Every human, regardless of race, identity, orientation, or culture - we are all interconnected by seventy percent water. … Learn More

Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano - FFLA is a private non-profit organization based in Quito, Ecuador. Its mission is to work towards sustainable development in Latin America through constructive dialogue and conflict resolution, strengthened citizen participation, and improved political and institutional capacities. … Learn More

LAQI is an organization comprised of the leading companies and institutions of Latin America, rating them on issues of Quality and Sustainable Development. LAQI is based and run on the 40+10 actions and directives, and it respects the limits of … Learn More

An agreement created in 2011 between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), FEMSA Foundation, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the International Climate Initiative (IKI), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to contribute to water security in Latin America and the Caribbean through … Learn More

Water For People exists to promote the development of high-quality drinking water and sanitation services, accessible to all, and sustained by strong communities, businesses, and governments. OUR VISION A world where every person has access to reliable and safe water … Learn More

WaterStep responds to critical needs for safe water by evaluating and implementing solutions and teaching people to use those tools. WaterStep saves lives with safe water by empowering communities to take care of their own long-term water needs. We believe … Learn More

Projects in Nicaragua

Keurig Green Mountain funds this program, called "Blue Harvest," to restore and manage water resources in coffee-producing areas of Central America. Blue Harvest is a three-year program coordinated by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The premise of this program is that, … Learn More

In Nicaragua, WaterAid's response has been two-fold. First, it has been developing prototypes of portable handwashing stations where there is no piped water,supplying and improvising handwashing units to accompany rainwater catchment systems. Second, it has contributed to a national campaign … Learn More

Starbucks and Conservation International began an assessment of the water component of the Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices program in 2008, focused on 2 stages in the coffee value chain: cultivating, growing and harvesting coffee using methods that avoid … Learn More

Keurig Green Mountain committed $1.25 million over five years to Water for People (WFP) to support a clean water project in communities in Nicaragua from which we source coffee. Water for People takes an innovative approach to holistic water management, … Learn More

   Loading Suggested Resources

   Loading Lessons