Aerial view of SABESP machinery, right, working next to pumps from the Jaguari dam station, in the São Paulo state water reservoir system, February 2015. Photo: Reuters

[This is an interesting situation: A technogenic climate catastrophe that isn't caused by global warming, but instead by deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. –Des]

By Zachary Davies Boren  
23 February 2015

(The Independent) – As Brazil continues to battle a historic drought, millions of people in its largest city are about to run out of water.

São Paulo, home to around 20 million, is experiencing its lowest rainfall since 1930, and new water-saving measures have been introduced in an attempt to manage the escalating catastrophe.

Services including schools and hospitals are having to adapt to the country's newfound water struggles, with The Telegraph reporting that doctors have even been forced to cut short dialysis treatment for kidney patients.

The Cândido Fontoura children's hospital has refuted claims that it went without water earlier this month, but biologist Analice Dora expressed fear: "Everyone is worried. Hospitals are the one place that can't lack water."

Though there has been a recent uptick in rainfall in the region, it hasn't been enough to boost supply in a country nominally the most water-rich in the world.

Current reserves stand at just 10 per cent - known as the "dead volume" - and the government has warned that it could get worse in the coming months.

Professor Decio Semensatto from the Federal University of São Paulo has likened the current water situation to a "semi-desert".

With the water crisis likely to last for years, Semensatto sees the testing of solutions as "training for the next few years, which will be worse". [more]

Brazil water shortage: Sao Paulo devastated by its worst drought on record

The dry banks of the Atibainha reservoir about 56 miles north of São Paulo, January 2015. Brazil is sometimes called the 'Saudi Arabia of water,' as if harnessing the coveted resource were a given comparable to living above a sea of oil. A more dystopian situation is unfolding however: water is in short supply. Photo: Mauricio Lima / The New York Times

16 February 2015

SÃO PAULO, Brazil (The New York Times) – Endowed with the Amazon and other mighty rivers, an array of huge dams and one-eighth of the world’s fresh water, Brazil is sometimes called the “Saudi Arabia of water,” so rich in the coveted resource that some liken it to living above a sea of oil.

But in Brazil’s largest and wealthiest city, a more dystopian situation is unfolding: The taps are starting to run dry.

As southeast Brazil grapples with its worst drought in nearly a century, a problem worsened by polluted rivers, deforestation and population growth, the largest reservoir system serving São Paulo is near depletion. Many residents are already enduring sporadic water cutoffs, some going days without it. Officials say that drastic rationing may be needed, with water service provided only two days a week.

Behind closed doors, the views are grimmer. In a meeting recorded secretly and leaked to the local news media, Paulo Massato, a senior official at São Paulo’s water utility, said that residents might have to be warned to flee because “there’s not enough water, there won’t be water to bathe, to clean” homes.

“We’re witnessing an unprecedented water crisis in one of the world’s great industrial cities,” said Marússia Whately, a water specialist at Instituto Socioambiental, a Brazilian environmental group. “Because of environmental degradation and political cowardice, millions of people in São Paulo are now wondering when the water will run out.” […]

Experts say the origins of the crisis go beyond the recent drought to include an array of interconnected factors: the city’s surging population growth in the 20th century; a chronically leaky system that spills vast amounts of water before it can reach homes; notorious pollution in the Tietê and Pinheiros rivers traversing the city (their aroma can induce nausea in passers-by); and the destruction of surrounding forests and wetlands that have historically soaked up rain and released it into reservoirs.

Deforestation in the Amazon River basin, hundreds of miles away, may also be adding to São Paulo’s water crisis. Cutting the forest reduces its capacity to release humidity into the air, diminishing rainfall in southeast Brazil, according to a recent study by one of the country’s leading climate scientists.

Officials also point to global warming. “Climate change has arrived to stay,” Geraldo Alckmin, the governor of São Paulo State, said this month. “When it rains, it rains too much, and when there’s drought, it’s way too dry.” […]

“I feel hatred, hatred of the governor and of Sabesp,” said Márcia Oliani, 54, the finance manager of an art gallery who endured six days without water in her apartment. “I’d like to take them out and set fire to them. They completely failed to warn us, and have just continued to lie about this throughout.” [more]

Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City

Capacity of the São Paulo State water reservoir system, by area, and reservoir levels   in February 2015. Graphic: The Telegraph

By  Donna Bowater
23 February 2015

São Paulo (The Telegraph) – Ediane Marquis is in a rush to leave work at an infant school in the east of São Paulo.

It is the afternoon in Brazil's commercial capital, and she knows her mother-in-law will be without water as the city struggles with its worst drought on record.

"The water goes off at 1pm and comes back on the next day," said Mrs Marquis, 51. "Her bathroom and utility area are connected to the mains supply so she has to come to my house. It's changed her life, it's changed everything."

So far, she said, the nursery where she works has managed to stay open but schools, universities and hospitals are having to adapt to cope with reduced water supplies.

With the lowest rainfall since 1930, reservoirs that supply almost half of the 20 million people in the metropolitan area - including the financial district - are close to running dry.

Doctors have reportedly had to cut short dialysis for patients with kidney failure because of the shortage while schools have introduced water-saving measures to avoid suspending lessons.

Staff denied reports that the Cândido Fontoura children's hospital went without water earlier this month but Analice Dora, biologist at the hospital, said: "Everyone is worried. Hospitals are the one place that can't lack water. It's a question of hygiene." […]

"People here grew up with a culture of abundance and one of these abundances is water," said Décio Semensatto, professor of ecology and environmental sciences at the Federal University of São Paulo.

"There's water but there's also a lot of people. International standards say water stress is when levels fall below 1,500 cubic metres per person per year. Here, it's 200 cubic metres. We're experiencing a water situation like a semi-desert." [more]

Taps run dry in Brazil's biggest city as drought bites


  1. rpauli said...

    No, Global Warming leads to climate destabilization. More heat means more water vapor in moist air, or less in dry air.

    It's like saying that wildfires were not caused by global warming, but by a careless campfire.

    They are linked, and the changed climate supports more of these black swan events.  


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