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Brazil, mega-city of 20 million, to run out of water in one month


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(NaturalNews) The Western United States is not the only region of the world that is currently suffering under chronic drought conditions. The largest country in South America -- Brazil -- is also experiencing drought, and its biggest city is two months away from running out of water entirely.

As reported by Reuters, the Brazilian mega-city of Sao Paulo, where 20 million people reside, has about one month's worth of a guaranteed water supply, as city officials have begun tapping into the second of three emergency reserves.

Reuters further noted:

The city began using its second so-called "technical reserve" 10 days ago to prevent a water crisis after reservoirs reached critically low levels last month.

This is the first time the state has resorted to using the reserves, experts say.

"Global warming"?

"If we take into account the same pattern of water extraction and rainfall that we've seen so far this month - and it's been raining less than half of the average -- we can say the (reserve) will last up to 60 days," Marussia Whately, a water resources specialist at the environmental NGO Instituto Socioambiental, told the newswire service over a month ago.

The expert went on to say, however, that, with the approaching Christmas and New Year's holidays, water usage is actually expected to increase, meaning the existing reserves will likely be depleted sooner.

After that, said Whately, there is no guarantee or certainty regarding the availability of water to the country's financial center and wealthiest city. If rainfall does not replenish the Cantareira system, which is the main collection of reservoirs that provide water to Sao Paulo, she said the city could actually run out of water altogether.

There is a third, and final, technical reserve, and it could be used, says Vicente Andreu, president of ANA, the country's water regulatory agency, but it is difficult to get to, and the water is mixed with silt that would likely gum up the pumping process.

"I believe that, technically, it would be unviable. But if it doesn't rain, we won't have an alternative but to get water from the mud," said Andreu, during a hearing regarding the current water crisis, in comments to lawmakers in Brazil's Lower House of Congress on Nov. 13.

The southeastern portion of Brazil is mired in its worst drought in eight decades following an unseasonably dry year that left rivers and reservoirs dangerously low. Reuters reported that Antonio Nobre, a top climate scientist at INPE -- Brazil's National Space Research Institute -- has blamed current water shortage conditions on global warming, as well as deforestation of the Amazon rain forest. He says that both factors have meant a reduction in the release of billions of liters of water from rainforest trees, which in turn reduces rainfall measurements in the southern part of Brazil.

Joint water development projects coming

Other experts have blamed "poor planning and a lack of investment to boost reservoir capacity," Reuters reported, further noting:

A presidential election in October, which pitted the governing Workers Party (PT) against the opposition Social Democracy Party (PSDB), led Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB to delay taking action on the water shortage - such as ordering mandatory rationing - for fear of losing votes during his reelection campaign, experts say.

But now, some believe that changes to the existing infrastructure are coming too late for Sao Paulo. Alckmin has promised to spend 3.5 billion reais ($1.4 billion) to construct new reservoirs, as well as improve distribution systems. Most of the work, however, likely won't be finished for at least a year.

The Brazilian federal government, Andreu has noted, is addressing the issue as a short-term problem that most likely will dissipate once the first heavy rains of summer hit. He added that the government doesn't see the problem as a long-term water security issue.

Fox News Latino further reported that three of the country's most populous and important states -- Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais -- have agreed to divert water to the mega-city, as well as work together to improve water infrastructure.






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