A last-ditch effort to avoid a complete collapse of one of the city’s primary water sources, the city of Sao Paulo in Brazil, population 20 million, has proposed cutting off the water supply up to five days a week, allowing residents to access water only twice per week, or about eight times monthly.
As we reported back in December, Brazil’s largest city is barely surviving the worst recorded drought to ever hit the region. With demand for water far exceeding supply, officials have been frantically working to develop a system that will preserve what little water remains while avoiding a complete breakdown of this large metropolitan region. The “Sistema Cantareira,” a series of five interconnected reservoirs that under normal conditions provides water for about 9 million of Sao Paulo’s residents, is almost completely dry. According to the latest reports, the utility, which sits almost halfway between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, is down to a mere 5.1 percent of its total capacity of 264 billion gallons of water. If nothing is done to conserve what little water remains, the entire system will more than likely be dry in a matter of months, and most likely weeks, leaving almost half of the city without water. Consequently, the government is proposing some drastic measures that it says are necessary to prevent a total collapse. “The government of the state of Sao Paulo has admitted that it may be forced to impose ‘drastic’ and ‘tough’ water rationing in Greater Sao Paulo, with possible cuts to supply of up to five days,” explains the Brazilian news source Folha de S.Paulo. “The government did not provide further details or specify when the plans will come into effect.” Sadly, Brazil is about halfway through its normal rainy season and still hasn’t seen any considerable rainfall. According to International Business Times, 2014 rainfall levels are currently the lowest on record in the region, and the drought is showing no signs of relenting any time soon, say experts. Even if precipitation were to suddenly come, it’s unlikely that there would be enough to regenerate the reservoirs, which are teetering on the brink of total collapse. All the way around, it doesn’t look good for the people of Sao Paulo, many of whom are having to cancel their festivities for the upcoming Carnival celebration, the country’s most esteemed institution. “Never in the history of our city has something like this happened,” stated Antonio Penido, chief of staff and president of the Carnival Commission in the city of Oliveira, population 42,000, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal. “With broken hearts, we made the decision” to cancel this year’s festivities. More