Go and Drink Water Somewhere Else, Colombian President Tells Bogota Residents

(Bloomberg) -- Colombian President Gustavo Petro asked Bogota residents to leave the city over the weekend to ease pressure on the drought-hit water reservoirs that serve the city.

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“It’s not so people don’t drink water, because then we would die,” Petro said Thursday. “But it’s so we drink it in a different place, where there is no hydrological stress.”

The main reservoirs that provide water to Bogota dropped to 15.3% of total capacity on April 16, according to the mayor’s office. The entire country has been hit by a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, but the capital has been particularly badly affected.

The average reservoir levels across Colombia have fallen below 29% of total capacity, just above the “critical” level of 27% which could trigger power outages.

The crisis has the potential to “paralyze” the country, Petro said. Colombia normally gets about two thirds of its electricity from hydro power.

Read more: Colombia Power Operator Warns of Outage Risks Amid Drought

In a separate post on X, Petro called on Colombians to observe a “civic day” on Friday, and try to save power so that the country can make it to the upcoming rainy season without energy rationing.

Energy Minister Andres Camacho reiterated Thursday that the government isn’t considering power cuts and instead taking measures including getting thermal plants to operate at full capacity and creating awareness campaigns for people to reduce the use of water and electricity.

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