SAO PAULO – The current drought in southeastern Brazil, the richest, most densely populated region in the country, has created the greatest water shortage in the last 85 years and could last for 30 more years, a meteorologist said Saturday.
The meteorologist and partner-director of the consultancy Somar Meteorology, Paulo Ethichury, told Efe that the South American country’s current climate follows a cooling cycle in the Pacific Ocean during recent years, which came after the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, when it was warmer.
Agribusiness was frightened by the climate at the beginning of this year, with delays in the soybean crop and lower production levels forecast for other agricultural products like coffee.
According to Ethichury, longer periods of drought could be repeated next year.
“The current phase is the same we went through in the 1940s, when there were also smaller volumes of rain. This is a new cycle, in which we’re returning to the dry phase,” according to the specialist, for whom weather cycles tend to last a period of 30 years.
The water crisis in the southeast has alerted the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, and principally, Sao Paulo, the richest, most densely populated in the country.
The Cantareira dam system, which supplies 6.5 million people – a third of the Sao Paulo metropolitan area – has already consumed twice the so-called “dead volume,” an additional reserve for the reservoirs.
The rains of February and March, despite having been heavier than the average for those months, were not sufficient to improve the situation.
Meanwhile the president of the state-run agricultural research company Embrapa, Mauricio Antonio Lopes, said that drought has sparked the introduction of new technologies and the production of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in the country.
“We’re incorporating technologies that will make our agriculture more able to withstand the lack of water,” Lopes told the daily Folha of Sao Paulo in an interview.