Rio de Janeiro: Almost 340 km out to sea, where one can no longer see the Brazilian coast, the island of Fernando de Noronha, a natural paradise protected by the country`s environmental laws, is suffering through its worse drought of the past 50 years, a dry spell that has virtually exhausted the island`s only fresh water spring, officials said.
With no rain since last June, the almost 3,000 residents of the island and the tourists who continuously fill the 1,400 available beds for visitors are putting up with water rationing and are surviving by using the desalinisation facilities on the island which, now, are no longer able to supply everyone.
Despite the tireless and continuous work by cistern truck drivers who cover the island all day long bringing desalted water to local inhabitants, the island`s government has had to divide the territory into eight sectors, each one of which receives water every ninth day, officials said this past week.
When the rains stopped, the citizens of the island discovered by Americo Vespuccio on one of his first voyages received water on every fifth day, but that schedule steadily became less frequent as the reserves dwindled.
The dependence on the fresh water spring to supply local residents is being complimented by a group of four desalinisation operations that are transforming seawater into drinking water.
Fernando de Noronha is the most important of the 21 islands comprising the same-named archipelago, which has been protected by Brazilian law since 1988, when it was established as a nature park.
The island`s coast is a paradise for the many divers who come here to take advantage of the climate that allows them to dive without a wetsuit to observe the great marine biodiversity of the area.
Between 1737 and 1942, the island was the site of one of Brazil`s most-feared prisons, where the country`s most dangerous prisoners were incarcerated.