In DepthWater Security

Drought triggers alarms in Brazil's biggest metropolis

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Science  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6224, pp. 812
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6224.812

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Summary

Driven by a mysterious atmospheric anomaly, a 2-year-long drought has triggered a crippling water crisis in southeast Brazil, a region of 85 million people that includes the nation's biggest metropolis, São Paulo. The São Paulo government has reduced the water pressure in its mains, which regularly leaves faucets running dry. And it is now taking a carrot-and-stick approach to water usage, financially rewarding those who conserve and fining those who waste. Barring a sudden reversal of meteorological misfortune, officials are contemplating drastic rationing that would deprive millions of households of water for up to 5 days a week. In a press conference last week, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences took state authorities to task for failing to take bolder actions sooner and for a lack of transparency about the gravity of the situation.

  • * São Paulo, Brazil