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Water Well permits and Concessions

General Information about Water laws in Costa Rica
Throughout history, mankind has achieved great development and improvement in lifestyle, which has led to uncontrolled use of all the resources available on the planet. However, the main resource “Water” is one that has had a greater impact on a global level and is of great importance to all inhabitants of the planet. Water is life, so we must care for it, protect it, manage it properly!

MINAE
In our country, and in accordance with the Water Act No. 276 of year 1942, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) is the governing body for groundwater resources and is responsible to coordinate and decide on its domain the development, use, governance and monitoring of water usage. MINAE is also the governing body for registering and undertaking the licensing process for all qualified drilling companies in Costa Rica.

Our company has been registered for more than 13 years before the Department of MINAE. This official registration document number is #EC-123-2014 MINAE for water well drilling activities, and is further appropriated by document #DE-MINAET No. 35884.

Water resources in our country are handled according to the principles of “Integrated Management”. This type of management promotes the coordinated use of groundwater, land and natural resources. It also serves to manage and supervise development, in order to maximize the economic and social welfare in a safe manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

SENARA
The Servicio Nacional de Aguas Subterráneas, Riego y Avenamiento (SENARA) in accordance with the Costa Rican water law Act No. 6877, provides in Article 3, (clauses c, h and e) that describes SENARA’s role pertaining to groundwater. SENARA’s primary objective is to investigate, protect and promote the use of water resources in the country, both surface and underground, as well as perform, coordinate, promote and maintain updated hydrological investigational information, hydrogeological studies and other agrological studies deemed necessary in the protection of watersheds.

AYA
In accordance with the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the Costa Rican groundwater laws Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA), No. 2726, as amended, Article 2, paragraph f) corresponds to AyA right to exploit, use, rule or monitor, all potable water of the public domain essential for the proper enforcement of the provisions of this law.

Department of Water
The Department of Water is a department of the MINAE, there primary responsibility is to receive, process and decide on applications for subsurface drilling applications for exploration and exploitation of groundwater and assign the number for prospective wells, in addition this department will operate and maintain the register of companies that can legally drill groundwater wells.

The Department of Water (MINAE) will provide justification to AyA and monitor technical criteria regarding the involvement and usage of water sources for the population. SENARA will investigate all technical feasibility studies pertaining to the drilling of water well including construction and design. All water well applications shall be reviewed by SENARA to ensure that applicable reports and studies back up the request of the water well to be drilled.

Permit Process
The drilling permit application for underground exploration and exploitation of groundwater must be submitted to the Department of Water (MINAE). The following criteria shall be checked for accuracy during this process:

When the geographic, hydrogeological or individual characteristics of the groundwater extraction rate or the intended uses is determined that drilling can cause an impairment to water resources, MINAE through the Department of Water, shall be responsible for verifying that none of these conditions exist prior to the technical overview preformed by SENARA.

Particular reports or studies that may be required in order for a Drilling Permit to be authorized are as follows:

Study of Saltwater Intrusion
When the drill site is located less than a kilometer from the coast, susceptible to contamination by saltwater intrusion or other technical ramifications concerning the aquifer.

Study of Interference between wells or other bodies of water
When drilling location is located within 100 meters from other legally registered water well, creek, river or water sources.

Filtration/Contamination Study
Groundwater wells have an automatic permanent setback of a 40-meter radius. This setback is in regards to all public roads, construction, septic systems and property lines. The 40-meter setback can be reduced by completing and providing with your drilling permit, a Filtration/Contamination Study. This study will provide all technical data and analysis to ensure that the porosity and transitivity of the soil shall impede the source of contaminates, if so evident, from entering the aquifer via the groundwater well.

A responsible professional in the field that is properly incorporated into the respective professional association must prepare any such study. Our company has a large team of professionals that will enable the development of these studies in a timely manner ensuring the best use of resources for you and your project and sustainability and resource protection.

After the permit has been approved, The Department of Water will issue a drilling permit and with conditions for exploration. The number of well, which will consist of an alphanumeric code is assigned, using the combination of the initial letters of the corresponding property map sheet to and a consecutive number, which is then entered in the National Register of Wells SENARA and the National Concessions Register administered by the Water Management Water MINAET.

With drilling permit in hand, you will have 3 months time to drill! There can be a request for a 30-day extension but no other extensions are allowed.

After the completion of drilling, our company shall submit to the Department two copies of Water well drilling final report, signed by the accredited professional responsible for drilling and our company. One copy is the record for obtaining the Water well concession and the other will be sent to SENARA.

The drilling permit does not confer the right of exploitation of water resources.

Once the Final report for the drilled water well is submitted this is proof of registered water well and now the initiation of the Water well concession will take place. The water well concession is the concession granted for extracting ground water for public use.

The water well concession process will need to supply the following documents from the drilling program.

1. Pumping test results. This report demonstrates what the capacity of the well is in liters per second and the recommended rate of extraction by the authorized professional.
2. Water analytical results of the water well.
3. Make, model and size of pumping system that was installed and used during the pumping test.
4. Environmental viability Impact report that falls under regulation Article 17 of the Organic Law of the Environment, No. 7554.
5. The Water well Concession request must be published for three consecutive times in the Official Gazette of Costa Rica, in accordance with Article 179 of the Water Act. This receipt of payment must be included as proof of publishment of your concession package.

Once entire completed package is submitted to the Department of water, a series of technical advisors will overview and document all technical aspects of your request to extract groundwater from your well. This process normally takes up to a year. Once concession is granted it will have a nominal fee that must be paid each year. This payment is done at any local Banco Costa Rica branch office.

Promote sustainable development within the Costa Rican legal framework!

Throughout history, mankind has achieved great development and improvement in lifestyle, which has led to uncontrolled use of all the resources available on the planet. However, the main resource “Water” is one that has had a greater impact on a global level and is of great importance to all inhabitants of the planet.

Water is life, so we must care for it, protect it, manage it properly!

Specific Costa Rican Groundwater regulations that pertain to extraction and or use of groundwater:

  • Water law Nº 276 of 1942.
  • Executive Decree No. 35884-MINAET 2010 Drilling Regulations for Subsurface Exploration and Exploitation of Groundwater.
  • Law No. 6877 1983 From Creation Of Groundwater, Irrigation and Drainage National Service (SENARA)
  • Law No. 2726 Constitution of Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers. , 1961.
  • Environmental Act No. 7554.

We have been inscribed with MINAE
as licensed water well drillers for
more than a decade!

The application for a subsurface drilling permit for exploration and exploitation of groundwater must be submitted to the Department of Water (MINAE) who must give AyA sound justification and sound technical criteria regarding the exploitation of the groundwater sources. The Servicio Nacional de Aguas Subterráneas, Riego y Avenamiento (SENARA) will be responsible of the technical feasibility of drilling and well construction design.

Government Department approval process:

Ministerio de Ambiente y Energia (MINAE)
Governing body in charge of groundwater resources in Costa Rica.

Servicio Nacional de Aguas Subterráneas,
Riego y Avenamiento (SENARA)

Instituto Costarricense de
Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA)

The permit process:
Special conditions pertaining to water well drilling:

Saltwater Intrusion Study

When the drill site is located less than a kilometer from the coast, susceptible to contamination by saltwater intrusion or other technical ramifications concerning the aquifer.

Study of interferance of other water wells or other bodies of water.

When drilling location is located within 100 meters from another legally registered water well, creek, river or water sources.

Filtration / Contamination Study

Groundwater wells have an automatic permanent setback of a 40-meter radius. This setback is in regards to all public roads, construction, septic systems and property lines. The 40-meter setback can be reduced by completing and providing with your drilling permit, a Filtration/Contamination Study. This study will provide all technical data and analysis to ensure that the porosity and transitivity of the soil shall impede the source of contaminates, if so evident, from entering the aquifer via the groundwater well.

A professional geologist that is registered with the Costa Rica government must prepare any such study. Our company has a large team of professionals that will enable the development of these studies in a prompt timely manner and under the relevant legislation, ensuring greater use of resources for you and your project.

After the permit has been approved, The Department of Water will issue a drilling permit and with conditions for exploration. The number of well, which will consist of an alphanumeric code is assigned, using the combination of the initial letters of the corresponding property map sheet to and a consecutive number, which is then entered in the National Register of Wells SENARA and the National Concessions Register administered by the Water Management Water MINAET.

With drilling permit in hand, you will have 3 months time to drill! There can be a request for a 30-day extension but no other extensions are allowed.

Water well Concessions

The drilling permit does not confer
the right of exploitation of water resources.

Once the Final report for the drilled water well is submitted this is proof of registered water well and now the initiation of the Water well concession will take place. The water well concession is the concession granted for extracting ground water for public use.

The water well concession process will need to supply the following documents from the drilling program.

  1. Pumping test results. This report demonstrates what the capacity of the well is in liters per second and the recommended rate of extraction by the authorized professional.
  2. Water analytical results of the water well.
  3. Make, model and size of pumping system that was installed and used during the pumping test.
  4. Environmental viability Impact report that falls under regulation Article 17 of the Organic Law of the Environment, No. 7554.
  5. The Water well Concession request must be published for three consecutive times in the Official Gazette of Costa Rica, in accordance with Article 179 of the Water Act. This receipt of payment must be included as proof of publishment of your concession package.

Once entire completed package is submitted to the Department of water, a series of technical advisors will overview and document all technical aspects of your request to extract groundwater from your well. This process normally takes up to a year. Once concession is granted it will have a nominal fee that must be paid each year. This payment is done at any local Banco Costa Rica branch office.

Types of Water Distribution in Costa Rica
There are three different methods for a private entity to drill and well and publically or privately distribute groundwater to others.

Domestic Water Well
Domestic water well is a water well that is intended for private use usually for one property. This property is normally the same property as to where the well is drilled. This property would have to pull a Domestic water well concession for a certain amount of water to be extracted from this water well. If the water well produces a sufficient amount of groundwater, an additional 9 properties can be added to the same well. Each property would have to pull their own individual concessions for this water well. No more than 10 independent properties can extract groundwater for a domestic water well.

Water Well Commercial use
A commercial water well is a well that is in use for supplying groundwater to various lots or properties. In this case, the well is drilled and finished by the Land developer and then donated to the local ASADA to be managed and operated by this form of government water management.

Water Well Commercial Use Horizontal Condominium

All seems overwhelming? It’s not for professionals like us!
By this time the process will have been completed
successfully and you will be certain to use this precious
resource in a sustainable manner and within the relevant
legal regulations.

To learn more about our previous projects click here