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Let’s Save Our Rivers

(en Español)

By Susan Jones Valverde

I have vivid memories of what rivers symbolized as a child growing up in San Carlos.  They were more than a flowing body of water, they were an adventurous Saturday or Sunday morning. They represented family outings lasting hours in the water before being convinced we absolutely had to go home.  Sometimes we had inflatable tubes, sometimes fishing poles, and sometimes we just walked along the river bed upstream to float downstream.  On very special occasions we would take trips to Lake Arenal to meet up with family and friends.  Although Lake Arenal trips were very few and far in between, they left a lasting impact on what La Fortuna means to me.  Even though I now live in my native country, and can visit the very same rivers that I have a very strong connection to, times have changed.

Rio Platanar – Above the dam it runs free. Photo: Bruce B. Jones

Rio Platanar – Above the dam it runs free.
Photo: Bruce B. Jones

Private energy companies, some cooperatives and ICE have destroyed those bodies of water, modifying them forever.  Dams have been built, killing the aquatic ecosystem, altering the surrounding vegetation around the riverbeds, and forcing the wildlife to migrate elsewhere.  All in the name of a good cause they say.

Rio Platanar — A river of stones below the dam. Photo: Bruce B. Jones

Rio Platanar — A river of stones below the dam.
Photo: Bruce B. Jones

ICE wants to create enough power to sustain Costa Rica. Economically this makes sense, but it comes with a sacrifice, and in our case, the sacrifice has been our rivers and our communities. They have built dams, and then they built more dams, and they are still trying to build more dams.  The problem WE ALL should have with this is that we already have sacrificed enough, ICE already produces enough electricity for the whole country, and then some.  Based on historic numbers at maximum we have consumed 1.632 MW, but right now we have a production of 2.731 MW (MINAE, ICE 2013). Now I think we can all figure out why this energy cartel is trying to make more energy than we can possibly consume. Money, money and more money, a few get insanely rich while our environment gets destroyed, river by river.  This excess production of energy gets sold on the international market. These energy companies has decided to put out propaganda in all the right places to support their cause, with our children.  In schools they have placed their signs stating they are “amigos del ambiente”.  They have planted trees “for the environment” so that people can see they are putting back into our very diverse ecosystem.  What problem should we have with this?  When you are clearing the way for dams and cutting down trees that have been there for hundreds of years, you cannot plant a new and different type of tree and call it even.  When you dirty whats left of our rivers with sediment from those dams you cannot leave it to the water company to clean our waters and call it even.

ICE—Rio Naranjo project/projecto. Photo/Foto: Pura Vida Productions

ICE—Rio Naranjo project.
Photo: Pura Vida Productions

If you live in Quepos or the surrounding areas, this WILL affect you.  If you work in Quepos or the surrounding areas, this WILL affect you.  If you own a business in Quepos or the surrounding areas, this WILL affect you.  This affects ALL OF US.  80% of Quepos/MA and surrounding areas rely on tourism.  We have tourism because of our diverse ecosystem, if we allow The energy cartel to destroy our ecosystem we will have nothing left.  This is a problem for all of us, not just a problem for the river tours.  The economic impact of a decline in tourism would be detrimental to all of us!  If they kill our rivers (all of them, not just Naranjo and Savegre) we will see an end in tourism, and the paradise we call home will no longer be what we know it as.  We must take a stand, right now!

ICE—Rio Naranjo project. Photo/Foto: Pura Vida Productions

ICE—Rio Naranjo project.
Photo: Pura Vida Productions

So what can we do?  What can we do right now?  We begin by going to our local government offices (Municipalidad) and voice against a dam in our area.  We call, write and speak to them constantly and ask what they are doing to stop this project.  We demand answers.  We talk to people, and then some more people, to anyone and everyone about being against this project, because WE ALL need to be involved. We can also push for the government to look into other forms of energy, such as solar, to be used.  These are OUR rivers, let’s save OUR rivers!


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