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February 11, 2015

Sao Paulo's Water Supply Improved Slightly Last Week

Rainfall last week across the state of Sao Paulo helped to increase the water level slightly in the reservoirs that supply water to Brazil's largest city. The principal reservoir is the Cantareira water system which supplies 45% of Sao Paulo's water and is the main source of water for 6.5 million residents. The water level increased from 5.2% of capacity last week to 5.7% of capacity on Sunday after the region received 80 mm (3.2 inches) of rain over a five day period. That was nearly half the average February total of 200 mm (8 inches).

The other reservoirs in the system also received rainfall during the first week of February in the range of 59mm to 90 mm (2 to 3.6 inches) and the result has been a slight improvement in the water levels. This is of such importance for the residents of Sao Paulo that the daily water level in the reservoirs is front page news of the city's newspapers.

The Guarapiranga reservoir, which is the second largest reservoir supplying water to Sao Paulo, increased from 48.1% of capacity to 49.8% of capacity. The Alto Tiete reservoir increased from 11% to 11.5% of capacity. The Alto Cotia reservoir increased from 29.1% to 30.6% with the Claro River reservoir increasing from 30% to 30.4% of capacity. Lastly, the Rio Grande River increased from75.1% to 76.4% of capacity.

These slight increases are encouraging, but they do not indicate an end to the water crisis in southeastern Brazil. The forecast looks favorable for more rainfall during February, but there would have to be extremely heavy rains in February and March (approximately 125% of normal) for a significant recharge to occur before the onset of the next dry season starting in April.