Thursday, 5 February 2015


The drought here in São Paulo has finally come to the forefront - now that people are having water rationed in their apartments and houses all over the city and the Head of Sabesp (the water company) told all Paulistanos to leave the city. (How about they actually fix the problem!?!?). Unbeknownst to the lucky ones, some people have already been living without water for almost a year. São Paulo has been in drought for over a year and had record high temperatures.

The Problem
The 6 reservoirs that supply the city (aka Cantareira)  has been sitting at a dangerously low 6- 10% level meaning dirt and bacteria are omnipresent. It's officially called dead water and it needs to be pumped up into the pipes. (2 days ago it was recorded at 5.1%  of capacity). It is like a "black box of pollution". Gross! And you say, but there has been lots of rain this month?? Firstly, it is not all in the right catchment area... and secondly it has been barely enough to sustain the minimum level without the water becoming diseased (maybe we've reached that point already). They say that São Paulo would need 6 months of non-stop rainfall for the reservoir to be restored to 100% levels.

The Election
The water shortage was a small election issue back in October and downplayed by the Government and Media. . The São Paulo Governor Alckmin didn't want to enforce water rationing in fear of losing votes. In retrospect, education about water responsibility over a year ago when the warning signs started would've been the smart thing - still win votes and the city would not be in such a grave predicament now. This short term water shortage predicament will result in improved water infrastructure and education in São Paulo. Governor Alckmin has just approved 8 new projects for water treatment, and water sourcing. 

Cautious Water Use at Home
We usually drink double filtered water through the system but since October we're been buying filtered water. As a little girl in NZ I remember one of their slogans during droughts "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown flush it down" which is fine when you live with people you generally like... haha,  we save bath water to water the plants and I'm conscious when washing dishes, or even clothes. Limited electricity use needs to also be taken into account when this country is fuelled by hydro-electric power stations. Households are being given discounts if they use less than 20% of monthly water consumption.

You can find out more information following the Crise de Agua on Folha de São Paulo and this Facebook Group.
More articles on BBC,, The Economist,, Bloomberg

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