Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Eleanor Clark, makes this connection in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This current event was reported in Time magazine, on Oct 13, 2015, under the title, “A Megacity Without Water: São Paulo’s Drought”, by Jon Gerberg. This is likely real news based on Nation Public Radio in November 2015 providing an independent report on this current event, at here.

This event is relevant to water resources engineering as it deals with water demand, pipe networks, and storm-water control methods. The focus of this report is on the need for infrastructure changes and repairs in Sao Paulo to combat the effects of increased extreme climate events. As a result of the drought and a poorly managed water distribution and pipe system, citizens of Sao Paulo suffer daily 12-hour water cut-offs. Sao Paulo is a city known for its abundance in freshwater resources but not all of that water is able to be used for drinking. For example, on the south of the city lies another reservoir, Billings Reservoir, that contain 20% more water than the Cantareira but is too polluted to be portable. Also, the drought in Brazil not only effected the water supply for human use but also for hydroelectric power plants that are used to supply 70% of the electricity for the country (de C. D. Melo D 2016). The article was missing information on the exact measures that were or are being taken to improve the infrastructural management of these reservoirs.

Figure 1: Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira reservoir

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are the three key factors that are used to define sustainability in Sao Paulo, Brazil Water Resource Management. In this case, water resource engineering is being used to address the water deficiency problem in the community through an analysis of the available freshwater and possible sources of pollution in Brazil. Design efforts have been made to create an interstate basin system that allows the basins in the area to feed each other and create an interactive water system for Sao Paulo and the 29 million people serviced by the Cantareira reservoir (de C. D. Melo D 2016). This results in increased water security for human drinking and energy use. As an area known as the Saudi Arabia of water, it is important to protect the integrity of water reservoirs in order to protect the cultural practices of the people. “Water is life.”


de C. D. Melo D, Scanlon B, Zizhan Z, Wendland E, Lei Y. Reservoir storage and hydrologic responses to droughts in the Paraná River basin, south-eastern Brazil. Hydrology & Earth System Sciences [serial online]. November 2016;20(11):4673-4688. Available from: Environment Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 6, 2017.