Collaborations: Wastewater in Osa & Golfito

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
inogO Newsletter, No. XV

Collaborations yielding positive results

On August 14, 2015 members of INOGO and the Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA) Global Water Stewardship program met with key organizations at the local, regional and national level to provide a progress report on design plans for a wastewater treatment plant in the urbanization project of Villas del Sur, Piedras Blancas, Osa, Costa Rica. Currently Villas del Sur, a development of 157 tightly packed small homes, does not have a wastewater system. The 500 square feet homes have onsite septic systems that do not have functional leachate fields. As a result, all greywater and sewage that overflows the septic ends up on the street and in the stormwater system that ultimately flows into the adjacent river, eventually passing through Piedras Blancas National Park and ending in the Golfo Dulce.

The meeting brought together a group of people and institutions interested in learning more about possible solutions to the wastewater challenge. In attendance were the following:

  • Community leaders from the local water office (ASADA) and development association (ADI)
  • Representatives of the Costa Rica - USA Foundation (CRUSA)
  • Representatives from the Costa Rica National Park Services Osa Area of Conservation and the Piedras Blancas National Park (ACOSA-SINAC)
  • Officials from the Osa Area Ministry of Health (MoH)
  • Guides of the local tourism association for Piedras Blancas (AGUITUR)
  • Local coordinator of National Rural Development Institute (INDER)
  • Costa Rica National Director of Projects for Aqueducts and Sewage (AyA)
  • Brunca Regional Director of local water offices (ASADA)
  • Founder of Fumigadora Alto, San Isidro de Perez Zeledon
  • Director of Geoporter

Collectively, the group is learning more about the costs and benefits of developing wastewater treatment plants for Piedras Blancas and other communities in Osa and Golfito. This collaboration at the regional level comes at a timely moment as the country recently opened Central America’s largest sewage-treatment plant Los Tajos, connecting over 120,000 homes in the greater metropolitan area of San Jose. The greater objective of the new water treatment plant is to serve up to one million users in 11 cantones!

Moving forward, the collaboration has identified Bahia Ballena-Uvita as the second community for the Global Water Steward program. Specifically, CSWEA is utilizing their student design competition with graduate students from University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, Marquette as well as other student chapters. The wastewater challenges and project specifications are presented to them as a design challenge. Afterwards, CSWEA professionals mentor the students to come up with an innovative solution to the challenge and present their solution to the Global Water Stewardship program. The winning design is then presented to Costa Rican stakeholders - including Costa Rican Engineers and collaborating organizations - to finalize designs, submit for permitting, fundraise and execution.

The next steps in the collaboration of these organizations are to present operating and maintenance fees for the wastewater treatment plants, develop and execute educational campaigns/workshops, and fundraise.  INOGO’s role in this collaboration is to connect stakeholders and to help resolve challenges that present themselves in the process, while building capacity of local actors to independently engage organizations such as CSWEA in future collaborations.

Direct donations are encouraged and can be made here. Proceeds are used to fund travel costs and to perform work at the Piedras Blancas and Bahia Ballena site. If you would like more information, please contact Eric Lynne, Global Water Stewardship Chair at or Mohammed Haque, Executive Director at: