Brazil's water regulator kicks off São Paulo river usage debate

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Brazil's water authority ANA has kicked off discussions to address water usage rights in São Paulo state's Piracicaba, Capivari and Jundiaí river basins (PCJ), according to a federal government release.

The PCJ basins supply crucially needed water to the Cantareira system, which is currently on the brink of drying up.

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Water users in the rural areas of São Paulo and Minas Gerais states have until October 8 to submit comments regarding reservoir use restrictions and local water supply conditions.

ANA, which has already drafted a proposal, is planning to make a final regulatory decision by the end of October, the release said.

Water supply for industry - including irrigation - will be reduced 30% and water for livestock consumption 20%, according to the proposal. Industrial water use will be halted between 12pm-6pm and livestock water use between 7am-12pm.

State water utility Sabesp, meanwhile, is working on alleviating the situation, according to the release.

The company is seeking approval from ANA and state water and electricity department DAEE to extract 106Mm3 of dead volume water, the second such request following the extraction of 183Mm3 of deeply settled water earlier this year.

The utility, which initially submitted a petition in September, now has until October 6 to resubmit updated application documents. An official decision should follow shortly thereafter.

As of Thursday, the Cantareira water system was operating at 6.6% of capacity, its lowest level ever. At its current rate, it looks likely to dry up by end-November.