Rains fill reservoirs, but water rationing persists in Belo Horizonte

Minas Gerais capital Belo Horizonte rocked by water rationing. Photo: Joa Souza /
Minas Gerais capital Belo Horizonte rocked by water rationing. Photo: Joa Souza /

About two million residents of Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state, and its surrounding cities will have to ration water until March 20. According to the region’s supply company, groups of 500,000 people will have water for three days, before spending a day without.

The measure became necessary after the rupture of a pipeline responsible for supplying several neighborhoods in Belo Horizonte and its metropolitan region at the beginning of this month. The accident occurred after residents set fire to rubble that accumulated on the top of the pipeline, after heavy rains had battered the region in the beginning of the year.

Although not strictly the case in Minas Gerais, Brazil has endured a water crisis since mid-2020, with rationing measures and scheduled water cuts in several regions, such as the states of São Paulo and Paraná.

After many months of abnormal drought, the end of last year saw high levels of rainfall – which caused disasters in places such as Bahia, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro, but also helped to fill reservoirs, which are expected to reach 60 percent capacity by the end of the month.

With improved forecasts, the government decided to reduce the amount of energy it purchases from thermoelectric plants, which were switched on last year to preserve hydroelectric reservoirs.

More expensive and polluting, thermoelectric plants caused an increase in electricity bills. And, even with the improvement in reservoirs, Brazilian consumers will be paying top energy tariffs until at least the end of April.