Water or Waterless in Atenas?

What do you think of when someone mentions Atenas, Costa Rica?  In the past, the first thing that everyone said when Atenas was mentioned was, “Ah, the ‘Best Climate in the World,’ but lately, I am hearing instead “Ah, where there is no water.”  So, I’m here to set the matter straight.

The central area of Atenas which includes Guizaro, Los Angeles, Brazil, and Fatima among other neighborhoods which receive their water on the water line from Grecia often have issues.  The main problem is that the line from Grecia is old and only has the ability to distribute a limited amount of water.  Therefore, there are often scheduled (and sometimes unscheduled) times in these neighborhoods when the water will automatically be shut off each day.  In response, most people living in these neighborhoods have extra water tanks which store water to be used during the water shut offs.  Some others just schedule their washing around such hours.   A few months ago, there was a landslide which broke the main line from Grecia.  Because the old line is so ancient, parts were not readily available.  It first took time to get to the line because of the fallen tree and then they had to have the replacement part made in order to fix the line.  During that time, the water company, AyA, had water trucks going throughout the central area delivering water.  It was a terrible time, but the line was fixed.  The new water distribution line is currently in place, but there is no set date for the changeover from the old to the new line.  The office of AyA informed me that, as of today’s date, this is still more or less a year away.  Until that time, AyA will not issue any new water meters or water permits on properties which do not already have them in place.  Without the water permit, the municipality will not issue any building permits for those properties.  For this reason, Atenas has this new reputation of “no water.”

However, this image that Atenas is without water and there are no building permits allowed, is really only a small picture of the story.  Most of the rural areas surrounding downtown Atenas are actually on ASADA’s which are water associations, still overseen by the AYA, but with independent water sources.  These areas include Barrio Jesus, part of Sabana Larga, Mercedes, Morazan, and more.  Any properties in these areas apply for water permits directly from the ASADA.  So, it is up to the water association if the permit is granted.  There is no moratorium in these areas.  As long as the water association grants the permit, then the Municipality will process the building permit and approval or denial is dependent on all of the other requirements.

In addition, each of the residential areas (Roca Verde, Vista Atenas, Lomas del Paraiso, Hacienda Atenas, etc) have their own water source.  Again, as long as the water association or developers approved the new water permit, the municipality will not automatically deny a building permit based on water access.

Finally, there are many properties that have their own well or natural spring as the source of water.  In this case, it is important to make sure the well is registered and tested frequently, but it is a great option to avoid external water issues.

It is incredibly important when looking for properties to buy (or even to rent) to know what the water source is and to understand that not all of Atenas falls into the same water category.  In any area, there are times when repairs need to be made and luckily, the AyA does a great job getting water distributed to the neighborhoods when there are down times.  So…now you know.  I look forward to the day when I hear again, “Oh yes, Atenas, ‘The Best Climate in the World’” instead of the town with no water.

Tina has lived in Atenas for 18 years and is co-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate.  Check out their  website at http://www.tnrealestatecr.com and Facebook page for updated listings.  Tina is always glad to answer any questions at tina@tnrealestatecr.com.  

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