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Water Quality Newsletter

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Nosara has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. As reported by Kalia News, a 2017 study from the University of Sydney (based on 20 years of data through 2013) found that Playa Guiones was the 7th fastest growing surf break in the world. Kalia News reported: “… a town with great waves grows an additional 2.2 percent per year, above the typical growth rate of a similar town without renowned surf breaks. Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, explained, “Ocean tourism and recreation are the top economic drivers in our coastal communities…Nosara and Playa Guiones have long been a surfing hotspot...”

The article went on to note that the “Ostional Wildlife Refuge protects not only Nosara’s lands, but also our oceans: development is strictly prohibited in the maritime zone (200 meters from the high-tide mark), as well as into the sea. The protected area stretches almost 16km.” As anyone who lives here or visits frequently is aware, Nosara has continued to grow, and the pace of development has continued unabated since 2013, the year the study’s data was based on. As a result, ensuring the adequacy of all of our septic systems is an important step in maintaining the quality of our beaches—and numerous volunteers in Nosara are working to make sure that happens.

Solutions that can be implemented (by you!) now

WCA has volunteers testing the ocean water frequently at three spots—Baker’s Beach, the Palm Tree, and the Rio Nosara. Money is needed to continue the current testing, and expand it to allow testing further upstream.

In addition Vanessa Bezy, PhD who has overseen and reported on this water quality testing, recommends that all “local businesses and homeowners get their septic or wastewater treatment systems inspected and properly maintained. In most cases, septic tanks should be replaced with a contained wastewater treatment system.”

WCA has a handy Wastewater Guide for more information, including a technical checklist for inspections in English and Spanish. There is also a 3-minute test you can take that will provide you with the preliminary questions to assess your septic system. You can learn more and get access to resources on our program page.

Source: La Voz de Guanacaste

Solutions that can be achieved in the mid-term

One possibility for some homeowners to shore up their septic might be to install a biogarden. Biogardens are designed as a replacement for a septic drain field, with the advantage of soaking up much more discharge, and in a smaller area, than an ordinary septic field. A combination of wood chips, sand, and biochar (similar to charcoal) in addition to the vetiver grass planted will absorb excess nutrients from the soil.

WCA and its volunteers have identified two sites to install biogardens in Nosara as “test sites” that the public can view and learn about these gardens. These test sites will become models for other Nosareños looking to upgrade their own systems. In addition, biogardens might also provide a solution that can meet a broader need than an individual home or business, such as biogarden for larger businesses; farms; and for multiple homes to feed into.

What else can you do?

Please—donate to WCA, as generously as you can. This problem is sure to get worse as construction continues unabated, and affects the lives and livelihood of everyone who loves Nosara. Your donations will help fund:

  • Continued and expanded water quality testing

  • Installation of test biogarden (materials, labor, outside consultant fees, training local firm to do the work)

  • Building a temporary biochar oven (for prototype biogardens)

  • Continued marketing materials to promote awareness and action

  • Begin to accumulate a fund for those who cannot afford a system (new or replacement) themselves (but who can contribute labor to the project).

We are seeking the use of an easily accessible, small piece of land, perhaps a corner in someone’s lot, in which we could put in a small temporary oven (which is a kettle drum) to create biochar for biogardens. If you either own, or have, land we could use in the short term for this, please let us know.

In addition, are seeking people to act as “Ambassadors” to help us spread the word, and encourage people to have their septic systems inspected, and, if necessary, upgraded. WCA is planning on holding a brief information session for those interested in helping soon!

For more information, or to find out how you can otherwise help in our efforts, please contact us!

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