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In Brazil, two car washes have wildly different experiences of the same drought

Sao Paul, Brazil (Wikimedia Commons)

Sao Paul, Brazil (Wikimedia Commons)

In the Brazilian megacity Sao Paulo, a drought is gripping the residents — but not gripping all the residents the same way. In a report in Bloomberg Businessweek, “Tale of Two Car Washes Shows Brazil Poor Hurt in Drought,” whether your business thrives or fails in a drought depends upon where you are located.

According to the report:

There are days when Izilda Aparecida is lucky to get a drink out of the tap. Running a car wash? She had to shutter her small business this month until her water service returned.

On the other side of metropolitan Sao Paulo, in the Itaim financial district of South America’s biggest city, Luiz Antonio Navarro has no shortage of Audis and other luxury cars lining up for a cleaning and polish.

The different experiences for neighborhoods — one poor and one wealthy — in the same megacity illustrate the disparity Sao Paulo’s 20 million residents face amid Brazil’s worst drought in eight decades.

When drought strikes, many American cities have curtailed water with $500-per-day fines, but many, including Wichita, where the drought has brought water levels in the lake down to worrying lows, have allowed car washes to continue operating. But in Sao Paulo, the authorities claim they haven’t done anything except to reduce water pressure at night. But the poor say they’ve struggled to stay supplied.


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