UN Global Compact  |  CEO Water Mandate

Great Britain Colombia Brazil

Costa Rica

<% join_label %>

Costa Rica

Show Full Map
Amazon
Area: 5888268 km2
Countries:
Brazil; Peru; Suriname; France; Colombia; Guyana; Bolivia; Venezuela; Ecuador
Cities:
Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
PFAF ID:
HydroBasin Level:
Overall Water Risk:
Baseline Water Stress:
Click to view individual basin.
Location City, Country & Regions Location Type
,
()

Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

No challenges found.

Country Overview

1.1.1.WATER RESOURCES With an average width of 120km, Costa Rica receives about 170km3 from rain and about 75km3 finds its way into rivers and lakes; another 37km3 ends up in underground aquifers. The remaining water is lost through evaporation and evapotranspiration. Costa Rica is divided into three major slopes or basins: •the Atlantic side is the wet and rainy side and rarely experiences a deficit of water throughout the year; •the Atlantic side incorporates the northern slope, which drains into the San Juan river bordering Nicaragua and also towards the Caribbean Sea. The sub-basins within this slope contribute 5.8km3 annually to Lake Nicaragua and more than half of the water that flows into the San Juan river (around 23.2km3); •the Pacific slope is drier with a shared decline in average flow during the dry season. In total, there are 34 principal drainage basins in Costa Rica, with 17 having a major sloping contour. They range in size from 207km2 to 5,084km2. Groundwater is the primary water source in Costa Rica, where it accounts for nearly 90 per cent of agricultural, industrial and domestic water demands (with the exception of hydroelectric generation). Volcanic activity has formed highly permeable subterranean layers within the fragmented igneous lava. This phenomenon, coupled with high rainfall, has created aquifers in the central and northern part of Costa Rica’s Central Valley, where more than half of the population lives. These aquifers are called the Upper and Lower Colima and are separated by a layer that acts as a semi-permeable aquitard, which allows the descending and ascending vertical transfer of water. It has been estimated that the Lower Colima extends for approximately 230km2 and that the Upper Colima spreads over approximately 170km2. The Upper Colima aquifer is recharged from the Barva and La Libertad aquifers by vertical percolation. The Upper Colima also receives a large part of its recharge from rain infiltration in those areas where there are no overlying smaller aquifers. The Lower Colima is recharged from the Upper Colima by vertical percolation and from surface water where the Upper Colima is absent. The average recharge of the aquifer system was calculated in 1990 at 8200L/s. The depth of the water table level varies, depending on the surface topographical irregularities, but generally it ranges between 50 and 100m. The direction of the underground flow is from northeast to southwest in both aquifers. Surface water is represented by approximately 13 major rivers, with many adjoining tributaries that range in length from 50 to 160km. Costa Rica's major reservoir is Lake Arenal.

1.1.2.WATER USE In general, water quality is acceptable for drinking in urban areas as well as many rural areas. The government of Costa Rica understands tourism to be the primary driver of the national economy; therefore, great attention has been paid to improving potable water systems throughout the country. Costa Rica has the highest demand of water, both in total and per capita measures, in Central America. Per capita water usage is about 1,860L/day, amounting to 5 per cent of total available groundwater and surfacewater. Other Central American countries use an average of 3 per cent of total supplies. About 60 per cent of the Costa Rican population lives in urban areas; therefore, considerable emphasis has been placed on expanding water services to cities over the last decade. Approximately 99 per cent of the urban population is connected to water services, which is higher than the 90 per cent average for the rest of Latin America. Connection to the public water supply in rural areas of Costa Rica is about 92 per cent, representing about 1.56 million inhabitants. Agriculture accounts for 6.5 per cent of Costa Rica's GDP and 14 per cent of the workforce. Costa Rica irrigates around 21 per cent of its land under cultivation, relying primarily on surface water. The irrigation sector is managed by the National Irrigation and Drainage Service (SENARA). Two irrigation districts of note that differ in size and method are: •the Arenal-Tempisque Irrigation District (DRAT), which grows staple crops; •the Irrigation and Drainage of Small Areas (PARD), which is smaller but benefits more families than DRAT and focuses on higher-value crops. The Arenal-Tempisque Irrigation District (DRAT) is located in Guanacaste province, the driest area of the country (during five months of the year), and is nearly 100 per cent supplied by surface water, utilizing water from Lake Arenal. The DRAT has increased its surface area from 100km2 in 2003, to 280km2 today. It benefits approximately 1,125 families, producing mainly sugar cane, fodder, rice and fish (4km2 of aquaculture), generating income of approximately US$163.7 million from this region. The producers in the area pay SENARA a fixed rate fee of US$42.5/ha/year for water used in irrigation. Financial resources of US$13.7 million are being negotiated for the expansion of DRAT. The Irrigation and Drainage of Small Areas (PARD) is a district promoted by SENARA and is a response to requests made by individual producers, associations of producers and state institutions. SENARA is in charge of constructing irrigation canals. These are not state properties; they belong to the producers, who are responsible for properly maintaining the irrigation system. The PARD encompasses an area of 27km2 and benefits 2,023 families, who mainly cultivate vegetables, root crops, tubers, decorative plants and prickly pears. The areas where the DRAT and PARD operate include approximately 307km2; the total water demand is estimated at 35.2m3/s. Of this total demand, the Ministry of Environment and Energy Country Overview - Costa Rica (MINAE) has granted 1,240 concessions for exploiting surface and groundwaters for agricultural use; however, less than 97 per cent of the water in Costa Rica utilized for irrigation comes from surfacewater. According to the most recent figures published by FAO, Costa Rica theoretically has the potential to generate 25,400MW; however, more practically, the potential is closer to 10,000MW. The Lake Arenal has approximately 1,570BCM of useful capacity and produces roughly 70 per cent of Costa Rica’s electricity. The hydroelectric dam on this lake is known as the Presa Sangregado Dam, the Arenal Dam or the Sangregado Dam. The dam generates 640GWh/year and is located on the southeast shore of Lake Arenal in the Guanacaste Province, northwest Costa Rica. The Arenal hydroelectric project is operated by Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. Other important hydroelectric operations in Costa Rica include the Cachí (three 34MW turbines), Angostura (three 70MW turbines) and Corobici (730GWh/year), which is a component of the Arenal hydroelectric project.

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH Costa Rica’s major environmental problems are: deforestation and land use change, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture; soil erosion; coastal marine pollution; fisheries protection; solid waste management; and air pollution. While drinking water is good in many parts of the country, there are still many concerns about the quality of water in streams and lakes. It has been observed that surface water pollution is a threefold problem. Untreated effluents from urban wastewater (only 3 per cent of wastewaters receive treatment) account for 20 per cent of the problem; 40 per cent comes from solid waste and industrial effluents (heavy metals being the primary culprit) and 40 per cent from the agricultural sector. In the agriculture sector alone, 70 per cent of pollution comes from debris from coffee plantations. Water basins that receive large quantities of contaminated runoff include the Grande de Tárcoles and Large Terraba rivers.

Latest updates

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

Following

Country Water Profile

Coming Soon

Organizations in Costa Rica


Agua Tica es el primer fondo de agua de Costa Rica, contribuye a la protecci—n de las fuentes del recurso h’drico ubicadas en las subcuencas del r’o Grande y r’o Virilla. En esta valiosa alianza colaborativa participa la sociedad civil, ... Learn More

Somos un emprendimiento social dedicado a la educación, capacitación e incidencia en el área ambiental con énfasis en agua y saneamiento, con unenfoque de innovación y participación ciudadana Learn More

The Water Resilience Coalition, founded in 2020, is an industry-driven, CEO-led coalition of the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate that aims to elevate global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda and preserve the world's freshwater resources ... 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 Costa Rica


Bayer AG is programing meetings with neighbors that use the same water sources in order to jointly promote make a better use of the water. The site also shares its rain water harvest experience with the neighbors. With regards to ... Learn More

This project protects 156.86 hectares of native forest remnants in the Greater Tarcoles River watershed, home to 60% of the population of Costa Rica. The areas supplying water for the San Jose metropolitan area are primarily agricultural and threatened by ... Learn More

This project, a collaboration between TCCC and TNC, conserved 242.53 hectares of forest in the Greater Tarcoles River watershed, home to 60% of the population of Costa Rica. Existing forest patches in the watershed are threatened by economic practices like ... 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

The project goal is to support the strengthening of long-term conservation mechanisms (Water Funds) in 11 basins of 6 countries in Latin America, implementing actions in the field, investing in more than 5,000 hectares in priority areas of watersheds key ... Learn More

Suggested Resources

View the full list of 300+ resources at the Water Stewardship Toolbox

This Working Paper proposes a method whereby any decision-maker can calculate the cost required to deliver sustainable water management to a geography. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Inform and strengthen your company’s water management strategies and allow your investors to evaluate current water management activities against detailed definitions of leading practice. Learn More

Developers: Ceres

In this Nature feature, Johan Rockstrom and co-authors argue that identifying and quantifying planetary boundaries that must not be transgressed could help prevent human activities from causing unacceptable environmental change. Learn More

Nature-based solution (NBS) can improve degraded ecosystems, help sequester carbon, and manage the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events. Businesses are beginning to recognize the value of NBS for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

This report presents analysis of the response data from a sample of 783 of the world’s largest publicly listed companies. The report is aimed at companies and investors seeking to understand how they can play their part in delivering a ... Learn More

The Toolbox connects your business to the latest tools, guidance, case studies, datasets, and more most relevant to you based on your circumstances and interests. It features more than 250+ resources from dozens of organizations and is updated every week. Learn More

Developers: CEO Water Mandate, Pacific Institute

Checklist for restoring water quality in buildings left unused for a long duration. Learn More

Developers: EPA Office of Wastewater Management

This report makes the case for private sector investment in green infrastructure as part of a broader water stewardship approach. Learn More

Developers: BHP

Includes Immediate steps, ongoing health measures that can be taken, and responsible business practice Learn More

Based on the major combat guidelines set by the São Paulo State Government, Sabesp is fully engaged to endure COVID-19 pandemic within its operation area, which means 374 municipalities located throughout São Paulo state and home to about 28 million ... Learn More

Developers: Sabesp

Best practices- Resources- Webinars on WASH/COVID-19 topics. Learn More

Urban stormwater is becoming an increasingly important alternative water supply in California. However, current economic analyses do not adequately evaluate co-benefits provided by different stormwater investments. As a result, urban stormwater capture is undervalued. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Global Water Footprint Assessment Standard can be used to provide comparable quantification and robust analytics, helping corporations, governments, and researchers manage water resources and achieve greater water sustainability. Learn More

This guide outlines why and how investors engage on agricultural supply chain water risk. Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Committee designed this document to guide the food industry and advise its sponsoring agencies in the implementation of HACCP systems. Learn More

Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and built water systems. These investments present a significant opportunity to support not only water, but to provide ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

To provide guidance and a global framework for the design, verification and scaling up of Nature-based Solutions. The Standard includes globally consistent Criteria and Indicators, which are supported by the Principles for Nature-based Solutions, to measure the strength of interventions. Learn More

Developers: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

To help our partners in responding to this health crisis in their countries, we have compiled different resources and tools around COVID-19 and WASH, which include documents, videos, social media materials with messages on public health, webinar recordings, etc. Learn More

With special attention to resources for utilities, this page lists relevant guidance around water and COVID-19. Learn More

Developers: American Water Works Association

This page seeks to help water sector professionals keep informed on the attributions of the COVID-19 virus and any measures needed to protect both workers and public health, in general. Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

This article presents the state of knowledge with regard to human health and well-being from contact with nature. Learn More

The United Nations World Water Development Report for 2018. Learn More

With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their core operations. This guide is meant as a stepping point to begin reopening with safety as a ... Learn More

During an infectious disease outbreak, such as the current outbreak of COVID-19, small business owners must prepare for disruption in their business as well as prepare to protect their employees’ health and safety in the workplace. These steps are recommended ... Learn More

This report shows how putting nature to work can help deliver infrastructure services with greater impact and lower cost, all the while reducing risks from disaster, boosting water security and enhancing climate resilience. Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

This report seeks to provide an overview of the three leading water tools available for corporate water risk assessment. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Colorado River Basin states face significant water challenges, including the overallocation of water, long-term drought, and climate change. This report, commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation, explores the potential for corporate water stewardship to help solve these challenges. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The City of Austin, Texas is facing an increasingly uncertain water future, from decreasing water supplies and more intense droughts to periodic flooding and water quality impairments. Austin is addressing these challenges head on, from investments in water efficiency and ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Compass Business Tools inventory maps existing business tools against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It allows you to explore commonly used business tools that may be useful when assessing your organization’s impact on the SDGs. Learn More

This report provides findings on good practices of AWS Standard implementation. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

This paper provides examples of how to make progress in service delivery in and beyond the workplace. With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their ... Learn More

This special Academy session covered steps businesses can take to respect and support the rights and lives of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

This report explores the possibilities of scaling a circular economy, given the reality of the global economy and the complexity of multi-tier supply chains. Learn More

Developers: World Economic Forum

ILO Sectoral Policies and Governance and Tripartism Departments present four self-training modules, which adapt existing ILO training tools on OSH to provide governments, workers and employers with the necessary skills to implement the general principles contained in relevant ILO instruments. ... Learn More

Companies are increasingly setting and pursing ‘water balance targets’ as part of their water stewardship strategies. The seeming simplicity of balance goals can be attractive – “we will restore a volume of water equal to the amount our business consumes.” ... Learn More

Developers: WWF

This report calls for an integrated approach that brings together governments, water users, and the society at large including the private sector, NGOs, and academia to design smart, adaptable and sustainable solutions for water infrastructure impacted by climate change. Learn More

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water-related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Learn More

CTCN; UNEP Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; Water Witness International; WaterAid; WBCSD Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

UNEP Learn More

IPIECA Learn More

Ceres Learn More

Ecolab Learn More

PRI; WWF Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; Pegasys; Water Witness International; WWF Learn More

The World Bank Learn More

UNEP-DHI Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

UN Water Learn More

OECD Learn More

UNICEF; WHO Learn More

River Threat Netwrok Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; WWF Learn More

Swedish Textile Water Initiative Learn More

Alliance for Water Stewardship Learn More

WaterAid Learn More

CEO Water Mandate Learn More

CEO Water Mandate Learn More

McKinsey Learn More

Toilet Board Coalition Learn More

Conservation International Learn More

UNEP Learn More

U.S. General Services Administration Learn More

National Drought Mitigation Center Learn More

USGS Learn More

UN Water Learn More

AT&T; EDF; Global Environmental Management Institute (GEMI) Learn More

OECD Learn More

SAI Platform Learn More

Lillian Holmes
Primary Contact  

Discussion

No comments found - be the first to add yours below!

No comments found. Log in and add yours below!

Log in to add your comment!

No lessons found.

Print