Brazil Cities Rationing Water as Drought Saps Reservoir Supplies

The southern cities of Guarulhos, Sao Caetano do Sul and Diadema say Brazil’s biggest water utility cut supplies as much as a third in response to the worst drought in decades. Guarulhos, site of Sao Paulo’s international airport, said last week it was rationing in six neighborhoods.

Cia de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, or Sabesp, denies it reduced water to any municipality, and said today there’s no rationing. The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported Feb. 15 that water was being rationed to almost 6 million people in 142 cities in 11 states as supplies shrink in reservoirs and rivers to decade-low levels.

Reservoir levels at the Cantareira water system, biggest of six that supply almost half of the 20 million residents of metropolitan Sao Paulo, remained steady for a second day today at 18.5 percent after falling daily since Jan. 19. On Feb. 3, Sabesp offered Cantareira clients a 30 percent discount in exchange for cutting water usage. Brazil’s heat wave and driest rainy season in decades has hurt coffee and sugar cane output at the world’s top producer of the crops as well as soy forecasts.

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