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São Paulo’s water crisis worsens as taps run dry

Maria Do Carmo fills a bucket with water for cleaning in her house in São Paulo. Brazilians are hoarding water in their apartments to prepare for forced water rationing that appears likely to happen. (NACHO DOCE/Reuters/Landov)

São Paulo’s water crisis has gone from bad to worse. Simon Romero reports for the New York Times that water already is being shut sporadically in Brazil’s largest city — sometimes for days. Worried residents have taken to collecting water in buckets and even drilling their own wells. Rationing in a way that would limit distribution to two days a week may be required.

The crisis is fueled by relentless drought “worsened by polluted rivers, deforestation and population growth,” Romero writes. Other factors include the city’s fast-growing population and a pipe system that loses nearly a third of treated water to leaks and theft. While new reservoirs and water diversions are planned, they are a year or more away.

The situation is so dire that a senior official with the city’s water utility recently told the media during a private briefing that residents may be warned to flee if there is no water for drinking and hygiene. The article highlights a cruel irony to São Paulo’s dilemma. Brazil is so rich in water resources such as the might Amazon River that it is sometimes referred to as the “Saudia Arabia of water.”

New York Times

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