SAN JOSE, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Construction of a China-sponsored drinking water project is underway in Costa Rica and will help meet the needs of over 26,000 residents in the cities of Canas and Bebedero.
During the project's inauguration with the laying of the first pipeline on Wednesday in Canas, some 120 km away from the capital San Jose, Costa Rica's presidential chief of staff Rodolfo Piza stressed the significance of local access to clean, safe drinking water after years of severe drought.
"This project has been highly anticipated by an important community in our country, Canas and Bebedero, which has for many years been awaiting development projects, but above all, better health via potable water," Piza told Xinhua.
Piza thanked the Chinese government and people, saying the project will not only improve the well being of the local people, but also strengthen bilateral ties.
"Without a doubt, this is very important for the Costa Rican government," he added.
Chinese Ambassador to Costa Rica, Tang Heng, said, "I think that with this project we are going to promote even further the friendly ties between China and Costa Rica."
Yamileth Astorga, head of the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AYA), said a drought since 2015 has aggravated the pressure on the local water supply network which relies mainly on digging wells. Local wells are often abandoned due to a high arsenic content in the water, he added.
"The project is expected to take 18 months (but) at the last meeting we had with the head of the company a few days ago, they told us they believe they can do it in less time," said Astorga.
With an estimated cost of 16 million U.S. dollars, the project is set to channel water from a reservoir in Sandillal de Canas. It involves building a water intake pumping station, a treatment plant and 14 km-long water pipelines, said Jiang Zhe, general manger of the municipal engineering branch of the China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group, the project contractor.