In a recent news report, the Nicaraguan government announced that it will soon begin a $1 million project to reroute the San Juan River near the Costa Rican border – a river which has long been a source of dispute between Nicaragua and its neighbor to the south.
A Nicaraguan development committee claims that 1,700 cubic meters (more than 5,577 cubic feet) per second of water flow – enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every second – was lost from the San Juan after Costa Rica diverted it sixty years ago toward their own Colorado River. The rerouting project is designed to restore this contested water flow.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, disagrees that Nicaragua has the right to dredge the river.
The debate reveals the centuries-old connection between resource use and international conflict, and the fight for access to fresh water serves as a prime example.
As the planet’s freshwater resources become more limited, conflict in water-stressed regions will increase as people argue over how the water should be divided.
CI recognizes that ecosystems ignore national boundaries; not only do they affect everyone living nearby (Nicaraguan or Costa Rican, in this case), but with today’s global connections and dependence, even distant ecosystems affect all of us. Cooperation and collaboration throughout the world is essential if we mean to protect these ecosystems and the invaluable human benefits they provide.