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Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil's Largest City

Simon Romero, The New York Times on February 16, 2015

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Endowed with the Amazon and other mighty rivers, an array of huge dams and one-eighth of the world’s fresh water, Brazil is sometimes called the “Saudi Arabia of water,” so rich in the coveted resource that some liken it to living above a sea of oil.

But in Brazil’s largest and wealthiest city, a more dystopian situation is unfolding: The taps are starting to run dry.

As southeast Brazil grapples with its worst drought in nearly a century, a problem worsened by polluted rivers, deforestation and population growth, the largest reservoir system serving São Paulo is near depletion. Many residents are already enduring sporadic water cutoffs, some going days without it. Officials say that drastic rationing may be needed, with water service provided only two days a week.

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