Photo Of The Day

Image: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters A worker is seen inside the Cuncas II tunnel that will link the canals being built to divert water from the Sao Francisco river for use in four drought-plagued states, a project that is three years behind schedule and has doubled in cost from the original estimate of $3.4 billion, near the city of Mauriti, Ceara state, Brazil, Jan. 28, 2014.

Image: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
A worker is seen inside the Cuncas II tunnel that will link the canals being built to divert water from the Sao Francisco river for use in four drought-plagued states, a project that is three years behind schedule and has doubled in cost from the original estimate of $3.4 billion, near the city of Mauriti, Ceara state, Brazil, Jan. 28, 2014.

Darkness at the End of Brazil’s Great Water Tunnel

When complete, this tunnel – it is a tunnel carved by humans, not water – will be more than 4 kilometres long. The Cuncas II tunnel is part of an ambitious 477 Kilometre network of tunnels and canals that is being built to provide north-eastern Brazil with water. The region has a long history of droughts, and it is currently experiencing its worst in half a century.

The government’s solution is to divert water from the mighty São Francisco River. Originating in the south-east and flowing for nearly 3000 kilometres through much of the country, the São Francisco is known as “the river of national integration”. But it turns to the ocean before it reaches north-east Brazil. This means the four states of Ceará, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte and Pernambuco are left parched. Diverting some of the river’s flow could give the region a major boost.

Yet relief from the drought is unlikely to come any time soon. The government’s biggest infrastructure venture is only half completed. It isn’t technical problems that are slowing progress; it is bureaucracy and red tape. The cost of the plan has doubled from its original estimate, to $3.4 billion.

The government says water will start to flow to the north-eastern states by 2015.

New Scientist


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