everything that i have heard about this has come from second-hand sources, but apparently the reservoir and/or tanks that supply this area are running dry. despite flooding and heavy rains in other parts of the country, the talamanca region of costa rica has had pretty low precipitation the last month or so. i need to do some more research on the subject, but for the time being i am going to make a purely speculative conjecture that some dry months combined with a lot of new development have created this situation.
the measure taken, one i imagine would make milton friedman cry, is to shut off the water, or at least reduce it to a trickle, from 6PM to 6AM every day. i had also heard that the electricity was going to be cut off at 11PM each day, but the power cycles more randomly, and usually stays off just long enough to light all the candles and appreciate their beauty for a moment while thinking the power should go off more frequently.
there is nothing pleasant about the water going off however, and the system of shutoffs has led to some predictable economic behavior: hoarding. all the hotels and restaurants in the area, and many of the private residences, have large storage tanks hooked up to the municipal water. when the water comes on, there is no pressure to speak of, as every liter pumped into the system is diverted to filling all these big tanks. usually by mid-day there is enough oomph in the lines to have a decent shower. the house we are renting is at a higher elevation than most, and the shower-head is the highest point in the house. sometimes i take a shower using the spigot out on the road, because it generally flows strongly even when the pressure upstairs is a dribble. for now, i kind of enjoy the challenge of showering in public with a large pot of water and bar of soap, but i can see it getting old eventually.
it poured yesterday and is raining right now, so maybe things are about to change. until then, i am somewhat enjoying the unpredictability of the environment, and the daily problem-solving that it necessitates.
i guess costa rica is not alone in drought conditions.