Back
February 2, 2015

Future Water Rationing in Southeastern Brazil a Possibility

The rainfall in southeastern Brazil continues to be below normal and officials in the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo are gravely concerned about the possibility of water rationing in their states. After the worst drought in 80 years in 2013/14, the 2014/15 summer rainy season is also turning out to be a big disappointment.

The governor of Minas Gerais, Fernando Pimentel, met with Brazilian President Rousseff last week and informed her that if water consumption in the state is not reduced by 30% over the next few months, a system of rotating rationing will have to be imposed in the state. The gravest situation in in the metropolitan area of Belo Horizonte and in the northern part of the state. He stated that they have already started a campaign to conserve water and they are contemplating levying a tax on consumers who surpass their average water consumption of last year.

If their voluntary campaign does not reduce water consumption by 30% in the metropolitan area over the next few months, then rotating water reductions and even rationing may be implemented. He also requested emergency aid from the federal government in completing construction projects aimed at increasing the amount of water captured by the reservoirs that supply the city's water.

President Rousseff also met with the governor of Rio de Janeiro last week concerning the water supply for Rio de Janeiro and she is scheduled for another meeting with the governor of Sao Paulo concerning the water supply for the city of Sao Paulo.

Last week, the Paraibuna Reservoir, which is one of the four reservoirs on the Paraiba River that supplies water to the city of Rio de Janeiro, exhausted its available water supply and the other three reservoirs are close to exhausting their supplies as well.

For the city of Sao Paulo, the director of the state's water supply company (Sabesp), Paulo Massato, indicated that only water rationing would prevent an even worst case scenario of water interruptions during five days of the week and normal supplies for two days a week.

Long range forecast for southeastern Brazil are not encouraging. Last week, the Brazilian National Electrical System Operator (ONS) estimated that the rainfall in southeastern Brazil during the month of February will be 52% of normal. That certainly was not good news for the region where January rainfall was approximately 45% of normal. After the worst drought in 80 years in 2013/14, officials from the city of Sao Paulo had hoped for a recharge of the city's reservoirs during this summer's rainy season. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.