São Paulo water shortage more serious than appears

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Friday, November 14, 2014

The shortage of water in Brazil´s most populated state, São Paulo, is more serious than it appears, according to national water agency ANA president Vicente Andreu Guillo, government news service Agência Brasil reported.

State water utility Sabesp reports that as of Friday, the country's largest water supply system - Cantareira - is operating at 10.8% of its reservoir capacity.

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This is only because dead volume water has been extracted from below the surface, without which Cantareira is actually operating 20% below its capacity, Guillo said during a public hearing in congress on Thursday.

Extraction of the dead volume water is also occurring at a slower rate than expected. While Sabesp projected 15m3/s of water entering reservoirs, the flow of uptake has been about 4m3/s.

Moreover, other relief projects currently planned will not resolve the issue any time soon since new water supply systems will not be up and running for another 2-3 years.

The state actually has a river interlinking project, which is expected to take only nine months to complete. But it connects two rivers that are dried up, hence it all depends on rain, said Guillo.

And even if it does rain, ANA data shows that the state needs to transfer 100m3/s of water into water reservoirs to continue using the current rate of 23m3/s. "This is more than the historic highs," the executive said.

There are only two ways to resolve the shortage of water in the short term. One is to hope for rain and the other is to restrict water usage by implementing water rationing, Guillo said in the report.