São Paulo's Cantareira water system drops to historic lows

Monday, September 22, 2014

São Paulo state's Cantareira water system has fallen to its lowest level ever, dropping to 8.0% of its capacity on Monday, according to state water utility Sabesp's website.

Although Brazil's rainy season should start in November, Cantareira is expected to dry up at about the same time, given an estimated 1% drop in capacity per week.

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Sabesp has implemented a water conservation rebate program that gives customers a discount for decreasing water use, in an effort to combat rapidly dropping reservoir levels. It is also considering extracting deeply settled water - known as dead volume water - for a second time this year. The company, however, has not opted to impose water rationing.


Following high temperatures and a lack of rain at the beginning of the year, the water system fell below 10% of capacity on May 6 and hit a previous record low of 8.2% the following week.

Sabesp implemented emergency measures by installing pumps to extract "dead volume" water and, by May 16, its capacity had increased to 26.7%. The reservoir capacity, however, has been falling ever since.