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Brazil's biggest city faces rationing amid drought

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 13, 2014 at 5:21 pm •  Published: August 13, 2014
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SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's biggest city is running out of water and options.

The worst drought to hit the Sao Paulo region in 84 years is forcing local authorities for the second time in a year to put water pumps below the gates of the main reservoir, where the level has dropped sharply, so water can flow to the city's 9 million people.

Federal prosecutors are also demanding that state officials immediately present a plan for water rationing, warning that otherwise the reservoir could go dry.

At Jaguari dam, one of the basins of the Cantareira System, cracks are spreading in the mud, scaring longtime residents who say they haven't experienced a water shortage like this in a long time.

"I had never seen the reservoir like this, nor anyone else living here," said Nestor Algario, who lives in Braganca Paulista, north of Sao Paulo.

The region got only a third of the usual rain during Brazil's wet season from December to February.

Experts complain about the government's response, saying officials have been more focused on the city's hosting of several World Cup games, and the campaigning by candidates for presidential and gubernatorial elections.

The Sao Paulo state government had said that pumping water from below the reservoir gateways could provide a four-month supply of water, but levels dropped faster than expected, according to some analysts.

"All we have left to hope is for rain. Without rainfall, we have no options," said Jose Carlos Mierzwa, a University of Sao Paulo professor who focuses on sanitary engineering.

Besides installing the water pumps, the Basic Sanitation Company of the State of Sao Paulo has diverted water from other basins around the city and offered discounts to consumers who reduce monthly consumption by 20 percent.

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