Does anyone know if this story is true -- and if so, how likely and for how long is the park likely to be closed? Naturguide/Juan -- do you know anything about this? Thanks!
Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio Set To Close Feb 26 Unless
In four days the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio will have its doors closed by the Ministerio del Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones (Minaet) if it does not correct the environmental problems found in the national park, a major tourist attraction for both national and foreign visitors.
On February 12, the Ministerio de Salud (Health ministry) issued an order for the park to clean up the sanitary conditions within 10 working days, for the park to install a proper sewer and drain water system.
An inspection by the municipality of Aguirre found that drain and toilets from the housing used by the park rangers drain directly into the local lagoon, river and sea, without any type of treatment.
In addition, the septic tank used by the restrooms by visitors had collapsed and would overflow anytime a toilet was flushed.
The inspectors found that sewage was roaming freely in an around the bathrooms, causing some pretty foul smells.
An anlysis of the water revealed a contamination of 46.000 units of coliform* per 100 millitres of water. The analysis was done by the biology unit of the Acueductos y Alcantarillados (water and sewer utility).
The correct level is of 240 coliforms per 100 millilitres of water. When the level goes over 500, the water becomes a health risk.
The Manuel Antonio park is the second most visited park in the country, second to the volcán Poás, and providing the highest income for the state coffers.
Belfort Cubillo, administrator of the park, blames the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación (Sinac) which has not given the park the money to fix the problem that had been identified at the beginning of the year.
Although the park generates some ¢1 billion colones a year in revenue, the park administration only received ¢200 million, which went towards salaries and utilities to operate the park.
For his part, the vice minister of Ambiente (Environment), Jorge Rodríguez, assures that the park administration received ¢60 million colones from the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) - tourism board- but the administration never used the funds properly.
Rodríguez added that his ministry has launched an investigation into the Sinac to determine where the Manuel Antonio park money went and has asked Salud and Minaet to postpone the park closing.
As of Friday the closing of the park was scheduled for February 26 unless the conditions at the park have been corrected.
*Coliform bacteria are the commonly-used bacterial indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water. They are defined as rod-shaped Gram-negative non-spore forming organisms that ferment lactose with the production of acid and gas when incubated at 35-37°C.
Coliforms are abundant in the feces of warm-blooded animals, but can also be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation. In most instances, coliforms themselves are not the cause of sickness, but they are easy to culture and their presence is used to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of fecal origin may be present.
Fecal pathogens include bacteria, viruses,or protozoa many of which are parasites.