The Water Crisis in São Paulo

Project • Cecília, Giulia, Victoria, Pilar • See-Saw Panamby

The Objective of this Flyer...

This flyer was made to inform people about what is actually happening in the Water Crisis of São Paulo, bringing different meanings of crisis and development, the causes and consequences of the crisis, a little about how São Paulo receives water, how to prevent water lack, interviews showing points of view of different people about the water crisis, and different news about São Paulo's water crisis.

São Paulo's Water System

São Paulo has five water systems: Sistema Cantareira, Guarapiranga, Sistema Rio Grande, Sistema Alto Tiete, and Sistema Rio Paraíba. Each one is made of a group of reservoirs. River springs, rain, and groundwater maintain the them full. The reservoirs lead the water, to water treatment centres, where the water is treated and distributed throughout cities.

Sistema Cantareira was built in 1970, and has five reservoirs (Represa Jaguari Jacaerí, Represa Cachoeira, Represa Atibainha, Represa Paiva Castro, Represa Águas Claras). It was the system that supplied the biggest part of São Paulo - before the water crisis.

Sistema Cantareira

Big image
Want to know how Cantareira looks like? Our class visited the Jaguari Jacareí System...

These are some pictures we took:

Other Water Crisis in the World

Other places in the world suffer(ed) from a water crisis too. These places are China, India, Australia, São Paulo, California, and África. China, India, Africa and California are currently suffering from a water crisis. Australia suffered a water crisis from 1997 to 2009. The reason for the water crisis in these places are because of too much pollution, too many people, and the lack of rain.

Australia got rid of its crisis by taking measures to save the water it still had, and desalinating water.

World Water Crisis

Our planet is suffering from a water crisis. About 70% of Earth's suface is covered by water, and about 2.5 is fresh, and only 1% of the fresh water is accesible for direct human use.

View the video below to see how much water we waste in our daily lives...

The Global Water Crisis ⎢How Much Water Do We Really Use Everyday? ⎢TakePart TV


But, what is a crisis? Is it something bad, or good? Why can the lack of water in São Paulo be considered a crisis?

A crisis can have its negative points, but it also has its positive points. A positive point in a time of crisis is that sometimes, there is a development to solve the crisis. São Paulo's water lack is a crisis because it is being a time of difficulties, disagreements, stress, and is in a critical "breakdown" of water in a point that can lead to some deaths.

Check below the definitions of crisis and development, and some examples of each...

Definition of Crisis and Development

- What is a crisis?

1. A time of intense difficulty or danger.

2. A time when a difficult or important decision must be made.

3. The turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.

1. A time of great disagreement, confusion, or suffering.

2. An extremely difficult or dangerous point in a situation.

3. A moment during a serious illness when there is the possibility of suddenly getting either better or worse.

4. A sudden loss of confidence.

“ In mental health terms, a crisis refers not necessarily to a traumatic situation or event, but to a person’s reaction to an event. One person might be deeply affected by an event, while another individual suffers little or no ill effects. The Chinese word for crisis presents a good depiction of the components of a crisis. The word crisis in Chinese is formed with the characters for danger and opportunity. “

“ A crisis situation is defined as a stressful time in an individual's life when they experience a breakdown or disruption in their usual or normal daily activities or family functioning. “

- Why, and how does a crisis happen?

There are many causes for a crisis to happen, as there are many types of crisis. But generally, crisis happens due to a ‘breakdown’.

( See examples of crisis )

What is development?

1. The process in which someone or something grows or changes and becomes more advanced.

2. A recent event that is the latest in a series of related events.

3. The process of developing something new:

4. An area on which new buildings are built in order to make a profit.

1. The process of developing or being developed.

2. A specified state of growth or advancement.

3. A new and advanced product or idea.

4. An event constituting a new stage in a changing situation.

1. The systematic use of scientific and technical knowledge to meet specific objectives or requirements

2. An extension of the theoretical or practical aspects of a concept, design, discovery, or invention

3. The process of economic and social transformation that is based on complex cultural and environmental factors and their interactions

4. The process of adding improvements to a parcel of land, such as grading subdivision, drainage, access, roads, utilities

Some examples of Crisis...

- Bankruptcy

- Crisis Due to Natural Factors

- Family disruption

- Suicide

Some examples of Development...

- Social development

- Economical development

- Environmental development

- Health development

Cause of São Paulo's Water Crisis

São Paulo's water crisis started in 2014, until now - although there was a knowledge ten years ago that there was going to have a water lack in São Paulo - and it basically occurred because of the lack of rain, pollution, lack of planning, government bureaucracies and the canalisation of rivers. But, the main cause of São Paulo's water crisis is the water's system bad planning. The Cantareira System was built to, when a problem happened, be able to have water for seven years, however, the water lasted only two years.

One of the causes for this to happen is that SABESP loses about 40% of the water while supplying, while only 5 to 6% is acceptable to loose. The low infrastructure is one of the main causes of the lost of all this water. From the time the Cantareira System was built, to now, the population grew a lot too, but no measures were taken to expand the capacity of water for everybody.

The lack of rain in Cantareira is due to the fact of the convergence zone of the south atlantic. The rains from the Amazon were normally brought to the southeast, bringing rains in São Paulo and Cantareira. But, these rains, because of natural factors, are moving to the region were Bahia (the State) is located. Even so, there would be sufficient rain in São Paulo for the population to use, however all rivers are canalized, so when it rains, the city floods - while people suffer with lack of water.

Consequence of São Paulo's Water Crisis

With the bad water system planning and low infrastructure, pipes leak, (causing a major loss of the water) and people don't receive treated water. Because of this lack of basic sanitation in some places, there is a bigger probability of more people getting sick, creating a need for the government to save & spend money in health.

The lack of rains "forces" us to use the dead volume of the reservoirs, which can also result in sickness for the people who consume it, because as there is 'a lot' of water in a little space in the dead volume, SABESP has to insert chemicals to clean the dead volume water, which is dirtied quicker. When this water is spread throughout the city, sometimes the water isn't totally filtered in houses, so people consume water with chemicals.

São Paulo has many rivers, although, most of them are polluted and canalised, which doesn't allow a place in need of water, to use the water it has.

According to the book, "A Última Gota", the government would save about R$ 5 billion if it would start investing in basic sanitation instead of health (that is used beaches of lack of basic sanitation).

View the site below to see the list of places which are being affected the most...

How to prevent Water Lack

The most effective ways to save water are to:

- Educate to change consumption and lifestyles

- Invent new water conservation technologies

- Recycle wastewater

- Improve irrigation and agricultural practices

- Appropriately price water

- Develop energy efficient desalination plants

- Improve water catchment and harvesting

- Look to community-based governance and partnerships

- Develop and enact better policies and regulations

- Holistically manage ecosystems

- Improve distribution infrastructure

- Shrink corporate water footprints

- Build international frameworks and institutional cooperation

- Address pollution

- R&D / Innovation

- Water projects in developing countries / transfer of technology

- Climate change mitigation

- Population growth control

You can also save water in your daily life by:

- Install faucets with low-flow.

- Wash vegetables and fruits in a tub of water instead of washing under the faucet

- Don’t use water to defrost vegetables

- Use dishwasher only when it is full

- Don’t keep the faucet on while brushing and shaving

- Fix leaky faucets. Install low-flow faucet in your sinks

- Install low-flow shower head

- While waiting for water to warm up, put a bucket under the shower

- Take shorter showers

- Use low-flow toilets

- Don’t use the toilet to dispose of waste and tissues

- Use less electricity

- Use washing machine only when it is full

- Use leftover water for watering your plants; water plants early in the morning or in the evening during the summer.

- While buying appliances and fixtures, choose the one which consumes less water

the sites below were used to create these lists...


Some people were interviewed to know what they know and think about the water crisis.

These were the questions:

1. What are the causes of the lack of water?

2. What are the consequences of the lack of water for living beings ?

3. What are the ways to collect water ?

4. using the dead water volume is correct? If not, what should we do instead ?



1. Lack of government planning and the lack of rain where the main causes of the lack of water.

2. The consequences of the lack of water for the living beings is that it causes dehydration and worsens the life quality and may even cause death.

3. Make a plan of conscientization of the water (don’t waste it) and reuse and save water.

4. No, getting water from the dead volume is not correct because everything is more concentrated, like ' dirt ' , worsening water quality and the health of the people who consume this water. Another alternative is to make wells or buy water from elsewhere.

The movie producer, Andre D'Elia, of 'A Lei da Água" was also interviewed:

1. Why was the film 'A Lei da Água' made?

The movie "A Lei da Água" was made to illuminate relevant points on the new florestal code and to show the opinion of the scientific community, about the theme. The film also fulfils with the purpose of handing over the "amicus curiae" (friend of court) from the Direct action of unconstitutionality against the new Forest Code in the Supreme Court, in other words, the judges could "consult" the film before choosing their action. Although it wasn't the main objective, the film has been used in schools and universities to debate the theme of florestal restoration and the hydraulic stress. I feel extremely happy in contributing a little with the awareness of new generations.

2. How many time did it take to produce this documentary?

Two years.

3. Were there any difficulties during the production on this movie? Which one(s)?

We had difficulties in scheduling an interview with the parliamentarians in favor to the new federal forest legislation. We also had budget difficulties; always working within the available resources.

4. Have you done other movies? Do you have plans to make new ones?

My older film is called: "Belo Monte, Anúncio de Uma Guerra" and can be watched freely in the Internet.

I have plans to do a web series about the Brazilian Cerrado.

Below, is the complete movie "Belo monte, Anúncio de Uma Guerra"...

Belo Monte, Anúncio de uma Guerra - filme completo
Trailer Oficial "A Lei da Água"

Some News about São Paulo's Water Crisis