Environmental Sanitation in Heredia: A Relevant Challenge in Costa Rica

Environmental Sanitation in Heredia: A Relevant Challenge in Costa Rica

Roxana Yasmín Durán Sosa, Iliana Araya Ramírez, Rui Alexandre Castanho
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8482-8.ch008
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Costa Rica is recognized for its efforts in sustainable development. This study analyzes the challenges of environmental sanitation to articulate environmental management in the Canton of Heredia. Currently, the country faces significant challenges regarding access to water and environmental sanitation. This research contributes to the analysis of the challenges of the environmental sanitation system in this territory. The testing techniques and photographic registration in the impact area, along with the interviews with employees and professionals on the subject, and extensive bibliographic consultation support this methodology. The study's conclusions regarding the challenges of environmental sanitation are 1) legal and institutional framework faced by the environmental sanitation project of the Publics Services Company of Heredia (ESPH for its initials in Spanish), 2) strategy for the treatment of sanitary waters in the canton, and 3) improvement in the quality of life of the Heredia's citizens.
Chapter Preview


The Sustainable Development Goals report mentions that the “proportion of the world's population using safely managed drinking water services increased from 61% in 2000 to 71% in 2017” (United Nations, 2020, p. 36). However, 4.2 billion people report not having water, despite the increase in the number of people who use the drinking water service was 17% in the same period (United Nations, 2020).

Regarding renewable internal freshwater resources, Costa Rica registers a decrease in 2017 of 56,008 cubic meters per capita in a period of 55 years, which represents 1,018 m3 per person per year (World Bank, 2021). For its part, the distribution of the annual extraction of freshwater for industrial use has increased by 3.83% from 2012 to 2017. Regarding domestic use, it decreases 4.37% in the same period, and for agricultural use, it barely grew 0.55% in that period—quinquennium (World Bank, 2021).

Since the last decades of the 20th century, starting with the decline in coffee activity in the 1980s, the Metropolitan Area of Heredia's urban expansion, where the canton of Heredia is located, in Costa Rica, has shown a substantial transformation in land use. In particular, the change from coffee use to residential and commercial use linked to the production processes that have boosted the Greater Metropolitan Area's economy. The accelerated conurbation process experienced exceeds the territory's capacity to absorb environmental repercussions sustainably. Hence, this urbanization generates negative externalities, such as insufficient planning of environmental sanitation.

Durán (2020) affirms that: from the declaration of Pandemic in the country, the right to drinking water stipulated in article 50 of the Political Constitution of the Republic is ratified, which contributes to the health of citizens. On the contrary, the economic instrument of collection for the discharges has not reached the goal of reducing and supervising the amounts collected:

from those who use the environmental service of the bodies of water, well of public domain, for transportation, and elimination of liquid waste originated in punctual dumping, which can generate harmful effects on the water resource, related ecosystems, human health and activities productive” (Astorga, s.f. p. 7).

This makes it clear that the lack of planning and the “who polluter pays” approach opens up spaces to increase discharge to the detriment of water resources.

In Costa Rica, like other Latin American countries, real estate capital has exacerbated real estate speculation and the construction of residential and commercial complexes without anticipating infrastructure and service needs (Janoschka, 2002). More specifically, sanitation infrastructure is not integrated into cities' territorial organization, hence the deficiencies in environmental sanitation planning. Until 2012, the country lacked a regulatory framework for land use planning, and currently, the canton of Heredia does not have a regulatory plan. However, some progress has been made regarding the hydrogeological map's approval, the land use map, and the environmental variable is 80% advanced (Soto, Personal communication, 2020). These efforts affect the environmental policy that began in 2019.

In 2011 Heredia had a total population of 123 616, whose percentage of urban population is 99.70, with a density of 437.4 / km2 and 7.4% over 65 years (INEC, 2011) incremental trend to 2025 for a total of 149 930 people. Regarding the population over 65 years of age, a rise is observed, with an average of 11.06% by 2025 (INEC, 2011-2050) (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Costa Rica, Canton of Heredia - Projection of the total population aged 65 and over (2022-2025)

Source: Developed based on the national projections of the INEC 2011-2050.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: