By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Not even the recent torrential summer thunderstorms, which have flooded streets in São Paulo city and left thousands in the dark, are helping to increase water levels at the city’s main reservoirs. Since the beginning of 2014, the city has been facing the worst drought in its history.
Monday (January 12th) night’s thunderstorms knocked down at least seventy trees and damaged power lines, leaving almost 800,000 households without power, according to AES Eletropaulo, the city’s electricity company. Thirty-five roads were blocked to automobiles due to rising water.
São Paulo’s Congonhas airport closed down for an hour due to the heavy rains and winds that according to officials reached 85 km/hour. According to city officials rainstorms and high winds have knocked down over 900 trees throughout the city during the past fifteen days.
Despite the high volume of water seen on city streets the level of the Cantareira reservoir, which supplies water to more than 8.8 million inhabitants in São Paulo, instead of rising, declined from 6.5 percent on Monday to 6.4 percent of its capacity on Tuesday morning, according to SABESP (São Paulo’s water utility agency).
Last week, to avoid a collapse in water distribution the state’s government announced it would fine those households which consume more than the average they consumed during the period of February 2013 and January of 2014. Those customers who consume more than they were consuming during that period will pay an additional forty percent for their electricity.
According to meteorologists the forecast for the next few days continues to be one of thunderstorms in the late afternoon, early evening hours, but analysts say that although they may be sufficient to bring chaos to the city’s streets they are unlikely to help relieve São Paulo’s water shortage.