The Atibainha River dam is part of the Sao Paulo's Cantareira system of dams, which supplies water to 45% of the metropolitan region of Sao Paulo and its 20 million people. 
The Atibainha River dam is part of the Sao Paulo's Cantareira system of dams, which supplies water to 45% of the metropolitan region of Sao Paulo and its 20 million people.  - 
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If you wash your hands today in Sao Paulo, Brazil, you might be encouraged to do it with hand sanitizer instead of water. That's because Sao Paulo is in the middle of its worst drought in a century.

Marketplace Weekend host Lizzie O'Leary, on assignment in Brazil, tells Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal: "There's one stat that will probably blow your mind a little bit: 68 percent of the people here, in Sao Paulo, have had problems with the water supply in the past month. So that means the water pressure's lower, and there has been some talk of outright rationing."

For now, the government is offering price incentives to encourage residents to use less water. High-end restaurants are using plastic utensils, and students are told not to brush their teeth while in school. And an economy of private water trucks has sprung up, delivering water to the wealthy during the early-morning hours.

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Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal