South African water-management expert Jacqueline King Tuesday addressed a seminar sponsored by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the state-run electricity and telecommunications monopoly, and Universidad Nacional (UNA), in Heredia, north of San José.
During her presentation, “A Holistic Approach to Integrated Flow Management,” King explained a cost-benefit analysis of dam projects.
“We always want the most benefits we can get from development, but we must also consider costs, which include water shortages in the wetlands, ecotourism and the life of reservoirs,” King said. “We can manage change with development or we can just let it happen – this would be closing our eyes and ears to knowledge.”
King used examples of dams built in Losotho and Mozambique to illustrate poor planning and failure to consider ecological and sociological impacts.
King’s visit provided “a very important reflection,” said Gilberto de la Cruz, ICE National Electricity Planning Center Director. The institution is conducting studies of several rivers to evaluate potential water-management projects.
UNA Rector Olman Segura said project costs and benefits are important, considering the “crisis of resources” Costa Rica has experienced in recent years.
“In the past five decades, water has gone from being a rich resource to a scarcity,” Segura said, adding that from 1990 to 2001, demand for water in the metropolitan area increased by 12%.
Adopting laws to manage water responsibly is key to preventing this crisis from worsening, and the Legislative Assembly should pass legislation to promote responsible water management, Segura said.