Monteverde is located in north-central Costa Rica about 75 miles northeast of San José. The community is located in the northwest corner of the Tilaran Mountains and east of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The community has roughly 1,600 existing buildings and is more developed than typical rural Costa Rican communities. There are a few plantations, mangroves and marshes located downstream. Monteverde itself is made up of several smaller communities including Cerro Plano, Santa Elena and Los Llanos. These areas are mainly residential with a heavy dependence on tourism (hotels, restaurants and shops). The region hosts roughly 250,000 tourists per year. The residential population is relatively steady with no current plans for major developments or significant population growth. However, as tourism grows in the region, more businesses and residents may move in.
Although almost every home and business has their own septic tank, there are eleven small treatment plants on private properties. Four of these small plants discharge into surface streams and seven reuse the treated effluent. The local utility has been proactive in seeking a centralized treatment solution and is very interested in the idea of harnessing biogas as an energy source, as well as reusing treated effluent for agricultural irrigation downslope from the treatment plant.
During the 2018 August trip to Costa Rica, GWS contingents met with local planners and water managers to discuss the scope of a prospective collection and treatment system for the Monteverde region. This project will prove to be particularly challenging because of the extreme terrain of the region.
Monteverde is the subject of the 2019 Student Design Competition, which is currently accepting entries. See Student Design for more information.