Water supply and sanitation in the Dominican Republic

Drinking water quality

Various factors affect the water quality in the Dominican Republic, including: poor condition of purification systems, minimal operational controls, low level of maintenance of treatment plants, and mostly intermittent systems. [Informe del seminario-taller: Uso y gestión racional del AGUA – 6 y 7 de septiembre 2005, Hotel Dominican Fiesta – Santo Domingo.]

38.4% of water systems have no chlorination system installed. These are mostly smaller systems in rural areas. The fact that a chlorination system exists is not a guarantee that water is actually properly disinfected.

National chlorination coverage [Ibid]

According to 2002 figures by the service providers only 73.6% of drinking water quality samples showed satisfactory drinking water quality (as measured by the absence of total coliforms), while the international norm is 95%. [ Uriana Abreu 2005, Slide 16 ] It should be noted that the presence of coliforms as such is not a health hazard, but that the presence of coliforms is an indicator of the "potential" presence of pathogens.

Wastewater treatment

In 2000 the WHO estimated that 49% of collected wastewater in the Dominican Republic received some kind of treatment. [ [http://www.bvsde.paho.org/eswww/eva2000/repdom/caliserv/calidad.html WHO 2000] ] This percentage, while much higher than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean at that time (15%), is still considered insufficient.


The depletion of groundwater and the unregulated disposal of wastewater and solid waste are creating problems that might become irreversible. The numerous new communities around urban areas and large hotels usually do not have adequate sanitation.

History and recent developments

During the 1950s and 1960s the water and sanitation sector in the Dominican Republic experienced an abrupt decentralization and subsequent re-centralization. Since 1962, the institutional framework has remained relatively stable, with a gradual process of regionalization to the provinces with the largest cities of the country. Over the last three decades, which were characterized by economic growth fueled primarily by a massive inflow of tourists, substantial investments were made and service coverage increased significantly.

Decentralization and Recentralization

Under the government of Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) water service provision was first provided centrally and then decentralized. Until 1955 the national government provided services through the General Directorate of Water Systems (Dirección General de Acueductos) in the Ministry of Public Works and Irrigation (Secretaría de Fomento, Obras Públicas y Riego). All responsibilities and assets were transferred by the government in 1955 to the local city councils (Ayundamientos), a model which failed by 1962. The government of President Joaquin Balaguer thus created INAPA through Law 5994 on July 30, 1962, again administering all water systems centrally.

Gradual establishment of regional water and sewer companies

In 1973, under the second Presidency of Joaquin Balaguer (1966-1978), CAASD was set up in the capital Santo Domingo as the first regional water and sewer company, followed by the creation of CORAASAN in the second largest city of the country, Santiago, in 1977.

The 1990s under the third Presidency of Joaquin Balaguer (1986-1996) and the first Presidency of Leonel Fernandez (1996-2000) witnessed substantial investments in water and sanitation and an important increase in coverage. For example, access to water house connections in rural areas increased from 35% in 1990 to 62% in 2004. Access to sewer connections in urban areas increased from 47% in 1990 to 65% in 2004. [ WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program, as quoted further above ] These increases are among the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean during that period.

At the insistence of Congressmen representing their respective constituencies, the process of regionalization continued and in 1997-98 laws were passed creating three additional regional water and sewer companies in Puerto Plata, Moca and Romana.

Stalled reform efforts

In 1999 the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved an important US$ 71 million loan to consolidate the reform and modernization of the water and sanitation sector. [ [http://www.iadb.org/projects/Project.cfm?project=DR0123&Language=English IDB Reform Project] ] The loan foresaw the financing of investments by INAPA and regional companies, as well as substantial technical assistance. Specifically, it aimed at transforming the five regional water companies into commercially operated entities with no political interference in day-to-day management and strong representation of municipalities and civil society in their Boards, based on the model of CORAASAN. In the case of CORAAMOCA and COAAROM, management contracts with private operators were to be signed. INAPA was to be gradually decentralized into autonomous regional units, and services in rural areas were to be gradually transferred to users. A condition for the effectiveness of the loan was the passing by Congress of a water and sanitation framework law that would have established a central government agency (ente rector) in charge of the sector as well as a water and sanitation regulatory agency.

Under the Presidency of Hipolito Mejia(2000-2004), the water and sanitation law was debated in Congress in 2002 and again in June 2004, but was ultimately not passed. [ The draft discussed in 2002 is available at [http://www.cieca.org/foro_ciudadano/proyecto_ley_reforma_aguapotable.pdf Ley de Reforma] . Congress adjourned the debate on the law in June 2004 [http://www.cedopex.gov.do/pdf/Boletines_congresuales/boletin_10.pdf] ] The IDB loan thus did not become effective.

Private sector service contracts in Santo Domingo

Nevertheless the government undertook steps to involve the private sector in water and sanitation. In 2001 CAASD signed two service contracts for the installation of meters, meter reading, billing and collection, one for the Eastern and one for the Western part of its service area in Santo Domingo. The contract for the Western part was awarded to the Colombian company AAA, which increased the share of metering from 1% to 25% and increased collected revenues by 128% in less than two years. [ [http://wbln0018.worldbank.org/LAC/lacinfoclient.nsf/4145fb3d8bc4c82c8525673900539662/cb337cb6f3abd80785256cf000064d1a/$FILE/tripleA.pdf AAA] ]

The current government of President Leonel Fernandez (second Presidency, since August 2004) so far has not taken the initiative to revitalize the stalled reform process in the water and sanitation sector.

Responsibility for water supply and sanitation

Policy and regulation

Policy and regulatory functions in the water and sanitation sector in the Dominican Republic are highly fragmented:

* The Secretariado Técnico de la Presidencia is in charge of setting policies.
* Drinking water quality regulation is the responsibility of the Secretariat of Public Health (Secretaria de Salud Publica) through its State Secretariat of Public Health and Social Security ( [http://www.sespas.gov.do SESPAS] )
* Environmental regulation is shared between the State Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaria de Estado de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) [Informe del seminario-Taller] , which determines the limits of residual waste and controls activities, [Rosa Urania Abreu. October 2005. Republica Dominicana: Situacion actual del sector APS y sus principales necesicades] and the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INDRHI), which regulates concessions for all use and preservation of water.
* The General Directorate of Norms and Systems Quality ( [http://www.seic.gov.do/digenor DIGENOR] ) approves quality norms in the sector.

There is no economic regulatory agency for the sector. The absence of a national strategy for water and sanitation is considered a constraint to sector development. Without a clear strategy, there is a lack of direction and no apparent separation of roles among the active sector agencies. This results in overlapping responsibilities and sometimes conflicting activities.

Service provision

Water and sewer services are provided by regional companies in the largest cities, the national water and sewerage authority (INAPA) in other cities and towns, as well as by community-based water boards in rural areas.

The regional water and sanitation companies were established over a period of 25 years, each by its own law. Each company covers one Province. Their general directors are appointed by the President of the Republic, thus showing a continuity of centralized decision-making in the presence of regional companies. Besides this similarity, the governance structure (such as the composition and function of their Boards) of each regional company is different. The regional companies are:
* The Santo Domingo Water and Sewerage Corporation ( [http://www.caasd.gov.do/ CAASD] ), which services approximately 2.2 million people in the city of Santo Domingo and the surrounding Santo Domingo Province. [ AAA, Slide 4 [http://wbln0018.worldbank.org/LAC/lacinfoclient.nsf/4145fb3d8bc4c82c8525673900539662/cb337cb6f3abd80785256cf000064d1a/$FILE/tripleA.pdf] ] CAASD is a public service company with autonomous character created by Law 498 on April 13, 1973. CAASD's highest authority is a Council of Directors consisting of six members, including the general director of CAASD, the mayor of Santo Domingo, the Director of INDRHI and the Director of INAPA.
* The Santiago Water and Sewerage Company ( [http://www.coraasan.gov.do/ CORAASAN] ) services over 750,000. The autonomous public corporation was created in 1977 by Law 520.
* The Puerto Plata Water and Sewerage Company [http://www.coraaplata.com.do/english.htm CORAAPPLATA] in Puerto Plata Province, which was created by Law 142 of July 1997 and started operations in 2001.
* The Moca Water and Sewerage Compamny (Corporación del Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Moca - CORAMOCA) in Espaillat Province, created by Law 89 of May 16, 1997.
* The Romana Water and Sewerage Company (Corporación de Acueducto y Alcantarillado de la Romana - CORAAROM) in La Romana Province, which was created by Law 385 of August 18, 1998.

About 4.4 million people, or half the population of the country, live in the five provinces and the national district of the capital served by the five regional water and sewer companies.

Efficiency (water losses)

Non-revenue water has been estimated by various sources at being higher than 40% or higher than 65%. [Javier de la Cal y Cristina Manzanares. Octubre 2005. ”Agua potable y saneamiento en la República Dominicana – Un análisis desde el paradigma de desarrollo humano.” and Uriana Abreu, Slide 16, based on 2004 data by service providers ] Currently, service providers produce 41,720 liters per second (LPS), which is an average of 907 liters per person and day (LPPD) before losses. Even after taking into account losses, water use is much higher than in Europe (220 LPPD) and the United States (300 LPPD). The tourism industry explains this high consumption to a large extent. The hotel industry uses 280% more than what other Caribbean countries use - 1,483 liters per guest and night. [de la Cal and Manzanares]

Financial aspects

Tariffs and cost recovery

Cost recovery for water and sanitation is minimal. Average tariffs are moderate at US$ 0.21 per cubic meter for water and US$ 0.07 per cubic meter for sewerage. [ WHO 2000 [http://www.cepis.ops-oms.org/eswww/eva2000/RepDom/estrfunc/FinanSec1.html Tariffs] More recent data are not available ] Collection rates are extremely low at only 28%. [ Urania Abreu 2005, Slide 22. These low rates may not take into account improvements in collection efficiency as a result of the service contracts for Santo Domingo ] As a result of moderate tariffs and very low collection rates, according to a WHO estimate in 1998, households paid on average only US$ 0.50 per month for water and US$ 0.09 per month for sewerage. [ WHO 2000 [http://www.cepis.ops-oms.org/eswww/eva2000/RepDom/estrfunc/FinanSec2.html water bill] [http://www.cepis.ops-oms.org/eswww/eva2000/RepDom/estrfunc/FinanSec3.html sewer bill] ] Not surprisingly, the regional water and sewer companies and INAPA rely largely on transfers from the central budget to fund their operations. The existing schemes lack transparency and efficiency in the use of subsidies.

Investment and financing

A total of 84% of investments made between 1990-98 went to urban centers, while only 16% went to the rural zones [Informe sobre el ODM 7, PNUD 2005, y Evaluación del Sector APS, OMS, 2002] Average annual investments for potable water supply was US$87.9 million (1990-1998), which is a relatively high level of per capita investments compared to other developing countries. However, investments are not well allocated. For example, investments are biased towards water supply at the expense of improved sanitation and wastewater treatment, which received only 2.3% of total investments. [Global Evaluation of Services, PAHO/WHO, Dominican Republic (2000)]

It has been argued that poor allocation of resources has resulted in lower increases in coverage rates than would be expected, given the levels of investments. [ Informe Final Objectivos de Desarrollo del Milenio. July 2005. ] Also, little coordination has been carried out by donors.

External support

The water and sanitation sector receives external support from international financial institutions such as the Interamerican Development Bank, the World Bank, USAID, the European Union, as well as from NGOs such as CARE and the Catholic Relief Services.

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

The IDB has played an important role in the sector through its reform and modernization program mentioned above. However, the program has been stalled for many years after Congress did not approve the water and sanitation reform law that was a condition for the program's effectiveness.

World Bank

The World Bank currently prepares a [http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=64283627&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P054221 Water and Sanitation in Tourism Areas Project] . Its main objective is the reduction of the high economic, environmental and social costs caused by wastewater and solid waste deficiencies, especially in tourist areas, and the improvement of the coverage and quality of the provision of water as well as the collection and disposal of wastewater and solid waste in the Dominican Republic. This would be achieved by: (i) supporting the development and implementation of a national water, wastewater and solid waste strategies in a coordinated way among government agencies and donors; (ii) improving water resources management and the quality, efficiency and sustainability of water and solid waste services; and (iii) increasing the coverage of water and solid waste services, especially to poor communities near tourist areas.

External links

* [http://www.inapa.gob.do/index.php INAPA]
* [http://www.caasd.gov.do/ CAASD]
* [http://www.coraasan.gov.do/ CORAASAN]
* [http://www.coraaplata.com.do/english.htm CORAAPPLATA]

See also

*Electricity sector in the Dominican Republic



* WHO/PAHO 2000: Evaluation of Water Supply and Sanitation in the Americas, Country Report Dominican Republicy [http://www.bvsde.paho.org/eswww/eva2000/repdom/informe.html WHO 2000]
* Rosa Urania Abreu, octubre 2005: Republica Dominicana: Situacion actual del sector Agua Potable y Saneamiento y sus principales necesicades (Presentación en Powerpoint)

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