SAO PAULO (AP) – More than 140 cities are rationing water amid the worst drought to hit Brazil in decades, according to a survey conducted by the country’s leading newspaper.
The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper wrote Saturday that water is being rationed to close to six million people living in 142 cities in 11 states.
The newspaper quoted water supply companies saying reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they’ve been in 20 years.
Some neighborhoods in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state only receive water for 13 hours, once every three days.
Water consumption normally grows by up to 20 percent during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer. But this year, consumption has risen by up to 30 percent due to a prolonged heat wave affecting several states.
The Cantareira water system, the largest of six that provide water to some 9 million of the 20 million people living in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo city, is at less than 19 percent of its capacity of 1 trillion liters (264 billion gallons), water utility Sabesp said Saturday on its website.
Sabesp described the situation at Cantareira as “critical” because the amount of rain registered between December 2013 and January 2014 was the lowest in 84 years.
Sabesp said the other five water supply systems in Sao Paulo’s metropolitan area were normal for this time of year.
The PCJ Consorcio water association said the area would have to see 17 millimeters of rain a day for two months until Cantareira’s water level grows to 50 percent of its capacity.