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São Paulo taps Billings reservoir to address water crisis

Faced with an ongoing water supply shortage in São Paulo, the state Water Management Utility (SABESP) is finally looking to the Billings water reservoir to help address the crisis. The

reservoir currently has ten times as much water as the critically empty Cantareira system, but is mostly used for power generation. With 995 million m³ water storage, Billings has been identified by NGOs as an alternative resource to supply water for the São Paulo Metropolitan Area.

Despite a similar capacity (982 million m³), Cantareira has been facing alarming level declines and currently runs on only 5.6% of its total capacity. Should the drought persist, it could dry out by as early as June, the National Monitoring and Disaster Alert Center estimates.

SABESP is now working to link the Pequeno river to the Grande (Jurubatuba) water system, both of which are part of the Billings system. The project is expected to contribute 2.2m³ of water per second to serve areas currently reliant on the Cantareira system, but it will not be completed until 2018.

“Plans to connect the Pequeno and Grande rivers have been around for a while, but now they are finally being put into action,” said Marussia Whately, coordinator for watchdog Aliança pela Água. Established in 2014, the group is an alliance of over 20 NGOs looking for solutions for the water crisis in São Paulo.

Translated by Mayra Borges

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