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Brazil on verge of violent regional wars over water rights - a sign of global trends

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 

by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

Tags: drought, Brazil, water wars

(NaturalNews) Persistent drought conditions
 that simply won't relent, according to new reports, have sparked something of a water war in Brazil, which oddly enough has more water resources than any other country in the world.

The two largest cities in the South American powerhouse, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, are currently fighting over rights to a water source that sits between them. Rio de Janeiro has long relied on the Jaguari reservoir to supply its own citizens, but now Sao Paulo wants in on the action.

Sao Paulo is apparently running out of water due to poor planning and mismanagement, but the Jaguari reservoir is currently at its lowest level ever, which is why Rio wants to protect it. 

Officials from the two cities recently met in Brasilia for a mediation session meant to solve the crisis.

But a solution has yet to be reached, as Sao Paulo's tapping into the Jaguari would threaten to create water shortages in Rio, leaving both cities at a loss. 

Rio is currently surviving the ongoing drought, but this could change if Sao Paulo gains access to its main water source.

"It's unusual in that it's two very large cities facing what could be a new, permanent conflict over the allocation of water,"
stated Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, to Bloomberg about the crisis.

"It's a wake-up call that even places we think of as water-rich have to learn to do a better job of managing what's ultimately a scarce resource. Nature doesn't always cooperate with us."

More than 50 percent of Sao Paulo residents have gone without water

The problem is especially serious for Sao Paulo residents, more than half of whom have gone without water at least once during the past month. 

Though the city hasn't imposed the types of water restrictions seen in places like California, it has been logistically unable to provide water for everyone.

Maria Aparecida Lopes, a resident of one of Sao Paulo's suburban enclaves, told reporters that her family went an entire week without water in early November. She was forced to borrow water from a neighbor just to bathe, and once the water was turned back on temporarily, she stocked up as much as she could.

"Sao Paulo is facing a crisis that's much worse than Rio because of a lack of planning," stated Rio Environment Secretary Luis Partinho, who says Sao Paulo's request to pipe in 8,000 liters per second of water from the Jaguari could eliminate what little water remains for both cities.

"They have other alternatives,"
he added.

Are water wars coming to a city near you?

The problem of dwindling water supplies isn't isolated to South America, of course. 

According to The Nature Conservancy, a U.S.-based nonprofit group, as many as one in three of the world's 100 largest cities are currently facing water shortages due to drought and other factors.

In the U.S., California and much of the Southwest has been in an historic drought, save for a recent storm system referred to in the media as the "Pineapple Express" that brought brief heavy rains to much of the Golden State.

The situation is akin to what occurred during the 7th century B.C., when the Assyrian Empire collapsed due to what many historians say were similar water supply failures.

 Based on what is now occurring on a global scale in the 21st century, it is possible that a similar collapse may also occur in the modern age.


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