Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil drought crisis deepens in Sao Paulo

Atibainha dam which provides water to greater Sao Paulo 10 Oct 2014
Image caption Water levels at the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira system, are extremely low

The governor of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has asked for emergency clearance to siphon the remaining water out of the main reservoir serving Sao Paulo city, which has almost run dry.

After nine months of unprecedented drought, 95% of the water has gone.

Geraldo Alckmin, re-elected in last week's elections, has been criticised for not imposing water rationing to tackle the crisis.

Twenty-nine other Brazilian cities have been affected by the drought.

In Sao Paulo's main reservoir, the Cantareira system, the fall in the level has exposed a cracked earth landscape littered with the wrecks of dozens of old cars dumped over the years.

Image caption The Cantareira System provides water to greater Sao Paulo
Image caption The region got only a third of the usual rain during Brazil's wet season from December to February
Image caption Residents of the region of Sao Paulo state that depends on the Cantareira water system protest during a drought that is the worst in 80 years

The drought has also affected other states. Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais are locked in an increasingly hostile battle over water resources, since Sao Paulo - the economic power engine of Brazil - is trying to draw water from a river system that also serves these other two states.

So far the crisis in Sao Paulo city has been managed by a policy of cutting water pressure at night and giving incentives to people who cut back on use.

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