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Drought Reaches 5 of Brazil's 10 Largest Metropolitan Areas

01/26/2015 - 11h02

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FROM SALVADOR
FROM CAMPINAS
FROM PORTO ALEGRE
FROM RIO
FROM SÃO PAULO

Rationing, supply problems and reservoirs at high-alert levels are already a reality in five of Brazil's 10 major metropolitan areas: Belo Horizonte, Campinas, Recife, Rio and São Paulo.

Together, they are home to 48 million people, nearly a quarter of the country's population.

In São Paulo and surrounding areas, the main reservoirs will be depleted in about five months if the rain and consumption maintain their pace seen in the first three weeks of the year.

Given the situation, the state imposed a surcharge on those who increase their consumption, and SABESP President Jerson Kelman admitted the possibility of rationing "if rain continues to not fall in the right places and in the necessary quantities."

In Campinas (São Paulo State), five municipalities are already rationing and others have been facing frequent water cuts since 2014. The situation should worsen.

This week, the flow of the Cantareira system reservoirs to the region was reduced even more. Sanitation companies, industries and farmers will have to reduce their water use by 20% to 30% when the river flow slows.

In Pernambuco, according to the state government, 40% of the metropolitan area of Recife is facing rotating water rationing, including cities like Olinda, less than a month before Carnival. In Rio, the main reservoir for the first time reached its "dead volume."

Cities further from the capital city, so far, are the most affected by the drought, but there are already reports of problems in the city of Rio and its metropolitan area.

In western Rio neighborhoods such as Barra da Tijuca and Recreio dos Bandeirantes, there have already been set times for water cuts, and some hotels and condos have already hired water trucks.

CEDAE, Rio's water and sewage company, says that none of Rio's neighborhoods have registered water supply problems. In the Baixada Fluminense, residents report the lack of water in the region increased in the last months of 2014.

Minas Gerais also faces problems, with reservoirs critically low. This week, the state sanitation company asked the population to economize on water and announced it would be necessary to reduce consumption by 30% in the metropolitan region for taps not to run dry in four months.

A surcharge has not been added in the state on increased consumption.

Translated by JILL LANGLOIS

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