The Nicaragua Canal & Its Environmental Impact on Costa Rica
Nicaragua has already begun a project to build a canal system from the Caribbean Coast through Lake Nicaragua to the Pacific, but some questions remain unanswered.
President Guillermo Luis Solís has petitioned the government of Nicaragua to explain how they plan to go about building the new canal to rival the one built in Panama. Dredging the canal could potentially offset water, silt or others into the San Juan River, and cause several environmental problems in Costa Rica. This has caused policy makers in San Jose and people throughout Costa Rica to be somewhat reticent as to the building of the canal.
Work was begun on the canal in Nicaragua as of December, 2014, and it is proposed to be operational by 2020. The canal is likely to increase the economy of Nicaragua by 10% annually, but the logistics of where displaced soil and the possible sedimentation of the San Juan River have not been made clear. The construction, which is being carried out by Hong Kong based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group), plans to dredge Lake Nicaragua to twice its current depth.
The San Juan River makes up part of the natural border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and the southern half of the river is considered Costa Rican territory. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America, and it is only a few kilometers from the border with Costa Rica. The concerns of Costa Ricans are warranted considering the enormity of the construction and the proximity to the river and border.
President Solís had this to say in regards to the canal, “This is why we asked Nicaragua to tell us how they were planning to prevent the sedimentation of the San Juan River. We have not received that information. The only thing we want is information on possible environmental impacts on Costa Rica, and other than that we wish them well. We understand that this is not a canal that is being supported by the government of Beijing.”
Currently, Costa Rica has not received a reply from the powers that be in Nicaragua.