Lima forced to ration water due to drought

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The Independent US

Peru has been forced to ration water to its capital, Lima, after one of the worst droughts to hit the South American country in a decade. The government has imposed restrictions on water use between 5pm and 5am, leaving millions of people in the coastal city without water supplies every night. The restrictions are likely to last throughout Peru's winter.

The city's eight million occupants get their water from the Andes mountains over 160km (100 miles) away. This year, exceptionally low rainfall in the Andes has caused the state-run water company, Sedapal, to restrict the city's supplies. The Sedapal president, Jorge Villacorta, said water levels in the high altitude reservoirs had fallen to 165 million cubic metres, 120 million less than in a normal year.

Mr Villacorta said problems are not just limited to low rainfall. Sedapal loses 38 per cent of its supplies through what it calls "non revenue" means - leakage and theft.

People in Lima use twice as much water as the World Health Organisation deems necessary for personal use, he said. "People need to lose less and leak less water in their houses.

The worst affects of the water shortage are likely to be avoided by the five million people in Lima who can afford cisterns and tanks. At night, when demand for water is at its lowest, they will still have an uninterrupted supply of water. However, as many as three million people, most of them poor, do not have tanks. They will be without water for 12 hours at a time.

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