SAN JOSE – Manuel Antonio National Park, the second-most-visited park in Costa Rica, could have to close its gates this week after wastewater contamination was detected on its beaches, the Health Ministry said Sunday.
The ministry issued the closure order Feb. 12 and gave the Environment and Energy Ministry 10 days to correct the problem, which implies building a wastewater treatment plant.
The park, located on Costa Rica's central Pacific coast, is one of the country's best-known natural areas and the park that produces the most income for the state, given that it is visited each year by thousands of tourists.
The Health Ministry inspection revealed that sewage and wastewater from the house where the park rangers live was being dumped directly into the forest without being treated beforehand, and also that the septic tank for the sanitary services for tourists had broken allowing the sewage to leak out and collect in a lagoon inside the park causing a horrific stench.
Park manager Belfort Cubillo told the La Nacion newspaper that the problem of the wastewater had been identified a year ago, but he said that officials had not allocated enough money to deal with it.
Admission fees to Manuel Antonio National Park last year totaled $1.81 million, but the money went to the Treasury and the park only received $352,000, which it used to pay salaries and provide basic services.
The Environment and Energy Ministry plans to ask the Health Ministry for a postponement of the closure order to prevent the park from being shut. EFE