Sao Paulo (Brazil) runs out of water

Sao Paulo runs out of water

Sao Paulo runs out of water

Sao Paulo, Brazil, is in the midst of an untimely crisis that many claim could have been avoided – it’s running out of water, and fast. The Cantareira Water System, an interbasin transfer, provides less than 5% of its capacity of 1 trillion liters. 

Many credit the recent drought-like summer for the water shortage. Others say this could have easily been avoided if cautionary measures were taken earlier.

A Brazillian Problem

Although Sao Paulo is getting the most attention for its water problem, being that it is the largest South American city, the water shortage isn’t just confined to one area.

All of Brazil and other parts of Latin America are being impacted by this drought and 140 cities are currently rationing water as a result of it. To be exact, water is being rationed to about 6 million people throughout 142 cities and 11 states in Brazil – some people are even going without water for days as a result.

The root of the problem? Brasil faced a record dry, hot summer. Only 73 mm of rain fell in the month of February – which is drastically down from the 200+ mm that normally falls throughout the month.

The Cantareira, Sao Paulo's water system runs out of water

The key Cantareira water system, which provides water to some 9 million of the 20 million people metropolitan Sao Paulo city, has less than 16% of its capacity


Many think things could have played out differently to avoid the dehydration. Many proposals were made in the past that would have added more water sources and reservoirs, thereby reducing the dependence on reservoir system ‘the Cantareira.’

The proposals, however, weren’t considered, resulting in more dependence on the Cantareira, which has less of 16% of it’s capacity. And now it appears that the city is paying the price for putting most of their eggs into one water reservoir basket.

Where to go?

To bust out of the water drought, rainfall is an obvious answer. And maybe penalties and incentives will help to motivate consumers using only the water necessary for their household. Still the utility said it “guarantees water supplies” until the next rainy season.



6 Responses to Sao Paulo (Brazil) runs out of water

  1. Pingback: Clean water management & climate change: Sa...

  2. Pingback: Sao Paulo runs out of water | Caseworthy | Case...

  3. Sergio Correa de Jesus MFA says:

    The roots of the problem in Sao Paulo have less to do with the deforestation that happened in the state (and continues in the rest of Brazil) and more with poor resource management, low urban resilence, lack of consistent urban planning, poor “forecasting” (not weatherwise). While the current administration is trying to tackle the huge scale of the challenge, it comes too late.There are no silver bullets for a problem of such magnitude: a needed constant flow of potable water for 21 million people! Did you know that most of the rivers and streams that used to flow through the city have been “covered” since the 30’s and 40’s? Mistakes…!

  4. Maria Gebauer says:

    It seems urgent to install a recycling culture, not only the use of rain water but the recycling of domestic use of the water.
    I live now in Guadalajara, Mexico, and surprise me that being the city organized around what is called “glorietas” in each of one normally you have a public fountain, when it rains a huge amount of water is lost through the drainage.
    Why is it not possible to propose a system where these “glorietas” fountains could act as reservoir of water, of course with the adequate treatment? Like this I am sure Sao Paulo could act through the layout of the city and use it as a way to rationalise the use and accumulation of the waste water you have in the current city functionment.

    The solution should come joining together private initiative with a strong regulation and a schedule to go through coming from the governance or public sector.
    Most of the improvement in the Thames River was accomplished through a joint action and intelligent interventions that integrated all the aspects of environmental planning: economic, social, environmental condition, community demands, legal regulations, public and private benefits, and so on.

    The issue is that here is urgent to intervene in this holistic way and to start now, without lose a precious time in which S.P. and its citizens need a proper answer……It should be a good way to have the proposal of a trail to follow in order to put forward a General Proposal which should be managed by the Sao Paulo authorities, private sector and citizens and to which we could contribute with this debate, known researches in the field and proper references.

  5. Julie ann Futcher says:

    The water cycle is connect to the forests – change one you change them both…. they are interdependent…. and by taking responsibility of one you may not necessarily be taking responsibility of the other … regardless of this, urban water management and taking responsibility to clean up the waterways should be given a higher priority than it is ….. and can no longer be ignored!

  6. Sergio Correa says:

    Sep 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.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.