Despite new expansion efforts, wastewater treatment in São Paulo remains woefully inadequate, especially in favelas and other underserved areas. Improperly treated sewage poses a health hazard not only in São Paulo, but also in areas downstream of the megacity.
Charged with supplying water and wastewater services is state-owned Sabesp, one of the world’s largest water utility companies — managing water supplies for 27.9 million people and sanitation for 21.5 million.
In 2017, Sabesp completed an expansion of ETE Barueri, one of the largest sewage treatment plant in Latin America. The expansion allows ETE Barueri to treat the sewage of nearly 6 million people. The facility can process sewage at the rate of 12,000 liters per second. Sabesp plans to finance R$13.9 billion (US$ 4.3 billion) in water availability improvements across São Paulo state by 2021.
J. Carl Ganter is co-founder and director of Circle of Blue, the internationally recognized center for original frontline reporting, research, and analysis on resource issues with a focus on the intersection between water, food, and energy.