Sabesp loses control of Cantareira water supply

Monday, October 13, 2014

Brazil's federal court has passed a preliminary injunction that removes São Paulo state water utility Sabesp from a five-party advisory group that monitors water management of the state's Cantareira supply system.

The remaining four controlling parties are national water agency ANA, state water and electricity department DAEE, the Alto Tietê river committees group, and the Piracicaba, Capivari and Jundiaí river basins (PCJ) committees group.

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The court decision also calls for ANA and DAEE to evaluate water uptake actions being carried out by Sabesp. If the court order is not complied with, ANA, DAEE and Sabesp will face criminal charges, government news service Agência Brasil reported.


Sabesp, which extracted deeply settled water in May to increase water supply in Cantareira, is considering a second round of extraction of so-called dead volume water.

The federal government, however, is concerned about the second uptake. It wants assurances that the dead water volume extracted in May will not be used up before November 30 and that further extraction would not damage the PCJ basin, which supplies Cantareira, according to the report.

To do this, the government has set water extraction restrictions and will suspend water use if needed. For now, water cannot be extracted below 815m in the Jaguari and Jacareí basins and below 777m in the Atibainha basin.

There will be exceptions if technical studies prove that there is no other way and that deeper extraction could be carried without risking life and the environment, the report said.

The medium-term goal for the federal government is to restore the Cantareira water supply system within five years.