Background About Our Work in São Paulo

About São Paulo

São Paulo State is the largest state in Brazil by population, with 44 million people (22 percent of the country’s population) generating 32% of the national GDP.

The State of São Paulo has been under severe water stress in the last few years, threatening water availability for human supply and economic activities.

Water Challenges

Brazil has the largest total renewable water resources (8,233 km3) of any country in the world. However, these resources are concentrated in the Amazon basin, where few people live. The Metropolitan Region of São Paulo (MRSP) – which includes the city of São Paulo and 38 other municipalities, and where more than 20 million people live – was affected by an unprecedented drought during 2014 and 2015, one of the greatest water crisis in Latin America. The Northeast of Brazil has a long history of enduring droughts, particularly in the semi-arid region, and the area has been affected by droughts for most of the last decade.

Water in Brazil involves the public administration at federal and state levels, and management depends on the type of domain: waters that cross state boundaries, or that serve as border with other countries, or that originate or flow into other countries, are considered federal domain; waters that are located entirely within the boundary of a state are considered state domain. The management of waters that are under state domain also varies per state in term of policies and administrative organization. In the state of São Paulo, water is managed mainly at the state level, through the State Secretariat of Sanitation and Water Resources. The Federal Government sets policy and manages federal watercourses that cross state boundaries via its National Water Agency (ANA) and the Water Resources Secretary (SRH) of the Ministry of the Environment. Catchment committees exist in some basins to manage local watercourses.

– São Paulo

The metropolitan area of São Paulo faces different water management challenges. These include the inefficient use of water, insufficient redundancy built into the water supply systems, pollution of watercourses and drinking water supply reservoirs, high leakage rates, flooding, and wastewater and hydropower infrastructure that is either not operated or operated well below capacity. The city’s metropolitan area’s water supply relies on transfers from other catchments, leading to inter-basin conflicts.

São Paulo state is situated within two hydrographic regions: the Parana and Southeast Atlantic basins, where the water balance is critical due to high demographic density. In addition, insufficient infrastructure, poor water quality and the effects of climate change have been adding to the challenge.

2030 WRG aims to contribute to São Paulo’s efforts toward social and economic sustainability through improved water management.