Friday 19 January 2018

Has Brazil's largest city just run out of water?

Taps run dry and doctors 'suspend dialysis' for kidney patients as nation faces historic drought

Regional reserves currently stand at 10pc
Regional reserves currently stand at 10pc

Zachary Davies Boren

Millions of people in Brazil's largest city are about to run out of water, as the nation struggles with historic drought.

Some 20 million people in São Paulo have been warned to expect "semi-desert" like conditions and fines are being issued discourage over use.

The city 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 newfound water struggles, in a country nominally the most water-rich in the world.

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."

There are reports that doctors being forced to cut short dialyses treatment for kidney patients.

Current reserves in the city stand at just 10pc - 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 likened the current water situation to a "semi-desert".

With the water crisis likely to last for years, Semensatto said the country's water utility Sabesp was responsible.

"It has known for years that drought-like conditions would soon arrive but took few preventative steps," he said.

A reservoir running dry in São Paulo
A reservoir running dry in São Paulo

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