Water War Amid Brazil Drought Leads to Fight Over Puddles

David Biller and Vanessa Dezem – Bloomberg, 11/25/2014

Brazil’s Jaguari reservoir has fallen to its lowest level ever, laying bare measurement posts that jut from exposed earth like a line of dominoes. The nation’s two biggest cities are fighting for what little water is left.

Sao Paulo state leaders want to tap Jaguari, which feeds Rio de Janeiro’s main source. Rio state officials say they shouldn’t suffer for others’ mismanagement. Supreme Court judges have summoned the parties to Brasilia for a mediation session this week.

The standoff in a nation with more water resources than any other country in the world portends further conflicts as the planet grows increasingly urban. One in three of the world’s 100 biggest cities is under water stress, according to The Nature Conservancy, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

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Brazil to Approve $275 Million for River Water Diversion

Vanessa Dezem – Bloomberg, 11/12/2014

Brazil’s government is close to approving 700 million reais ($275 million) in aid for a project that would divert river water from Rio de Janeiro to help refill Sao Paulo’s biggest reservoir. Cia. de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, which provides water to the city, will use the money to send it from the Paraiba do Sul River to the Cantareira reservoir, a project that will take about 15 months to complete, Water Resources Secretary Mauro Arce said today in interview in Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin met this week with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to seek aid to help tackle the water crisis in the state, facing the worst drought in eight decades. The diversion from the Jaguari dam is one of eight projects Alckmin said that Sao Paulo needs, at a cost of 3.5 billion reais.

“We are going to have a meeting to finish technical details and we are going to ask for financing from the Planning Ministry,” Arce told reporters. “Taking off five cubic meters per second from Paraiba do Sul won’t disturb Rio de Janeiro’s population.”

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Brazil Drought Boosts Coffee Prices, Threatens Sugar Production

Brianna Lee – International Business Times, 10/13/2014

A deepening drought crisis across Brazil is hitting two of the country’s largest exports as coffee prices surged to their highest level in two years and sugar production is headed for a steep decline. The drought affecting Brazil this year is the worst the country has faced in decades, triggering alarm for cities like Sao Paulo, which has instituted emergency measures to cope with a water supply crisis.

The price of Arabica coffee, of which Brazil is the world’s top supplier, soared to a two-year high last week as meteorologists predicted low prospects for rainfall in Brazil’s coffee-producing regions for the rest of October and November.

Brazil joins other Central American countries dealing with coffee crop woes as El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Guatemala have all dealt not only with drought but also coffee rust, a fungus that hit crops and resulted in the loss of more than $1 billion since 2011. Meanwhile, however, Colombian coffee seems to be taking advantage of the situation. Colombia’s coffee output looks set to reach a 20-year high this year.

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Brazil’s Biggest City Is Running Dry

Mac Margolis – Bloomberg, 09/24/2014

God, the natives like to say, is Brazilian. So with the country weathering its worst drought in decades, it’s no surprise that officials in the worst-hit regions are pleading force majeure. Geraldo Alckmin, governor of water-stressed Sao Paulo, chalked up the emptying reservoirs to “exceptional” and “unimaginable” drought.

But Saint Peter, the national patron saint of rain, gets a bum rap. The great Brazilian dry spell is as predictable as Sunday mass, and this year’s is no exception. Sao Paulo owes its skyline in large part to the hands of men and women who fled the parched backlands of the northeast to become bricklayers and steelworkers in the country’s biggest metropolis. One of them was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who wet his whistle with politics and became a rebel union leader and then president.

Now the problem has migrated, too. Sao Paulo, the nation’s most prosperous state, is facing its worst dry snap in four generations. Last week, the water level in the region’s biggest reservoir, the Cantareira complex, dropped to just 8 percent. The state sanitation authority, Sabesp, is offering fat discounts to consumers who slash their yearly water use by at least 20 percent. Dozens of cities are already rationing water.

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Coffee experts fear for Brazil harvest

Emiko Terazono – Financial Times, 09/07/2014

Divining the health of branches, floral buds and roots of coffee trees in Brazil has become key to millions of dollars being made or lost after a devastating drought hit the country at the start of the year. Recent discussions among roasters, analysts and hedge fund managers have focused on coffee agronomy, says Keith Flury, head of research at Volcafe, the coffee division of commodities traders ED & F Man.

“Given the unprecedented drought, industry and trade have had to increase knowledge about moisture deficits and the impacts on plants,” he says.

Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, accounting for about 35 per cent of all output. In the past, the main weather problems for the country’s coffee growers have been frosts – few farmers and traders have had to deal with the consequences of heat and dryness.

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Brazil Coffee Output Set for Longest Decline Since 1965

Marvin G. Perez and Morgane Lapeyre – Bloomberg, 8/28/2014

A prolonged drought in Brazil has already claimed about half of Jose Francisco Pereira’s coffee crop. Next year could be even worse as the country heads for the first three-year output decline since 1965.

“Everybody is praying for rain,” said Pereira, general director of Monte Alegre Coffees, a grower with 2,500 hectares (6,280 acres) based in Alfenas, Minas Gerais, that forecast this season’s harvest at 45,000 bags, down from 82,000 last year.

Production in Brazil, the world’s top grower, may drop as much as 18 percent to 40.1 million bags when the harvest ends next month, the National Coffee Council estimates, after a 3.1 percent slide last year. With damage worsening before the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the council said farmers may collect less than 40 million bags in 2015, creating the longest slump in five decades.

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Severe drought plagues northeast Brazil

Associated Press – Al Jazeera, 07/22/2013

Fresh water is among the most urgently needed daily necessities in northeast Brazil, where locals are suffering from a severe drought rarely seen in about 50 years.

Some areas in the drought-stricken northeast region have received no rain in more than one year. More than 400,000 households are facing fresh water shortage.

Water vendors have always been very popular among local residents in Marcolandia, a city in the state of Pernambuco, northeast Brazil. There is no fresh water supply system or water well in the city where people get water from tanks carried by donkeys.

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