Current Research in Hydrology and Water Resources (ISSN: 2689-7393)

review article

The Brazilian San Francisco River Basin Narrative

Jerson Kelman*

COPPE, Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Cidade Universitária, Brazil

*Corresponding author: Jerson Kelman, COPPE, Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Cidade Universitária, CEP 21941-594, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Tel: + 55 21 995108232; Email:

Received Date: 17 August, 2019; Accepted Date: 11 September, 2019; Published Date: 18 September, 2019


Although Brazil is a country with mighty rivers, like the Amazon, the Northeast part of the country is semiarid. The San Francisco River that runs across this dry region resembles the Colorado and the Nile rivers, as most of the water discharge results from the precipitation falling over the upstream part of the basin. What really differentiates this area from the rest of the country is the hydrological variability, rather than the mean annual precipitation, which is not particularly low. In the San Francisco River Basin, most of the effort has been historically concentrated on the creation of irrigation districts and on building and operating nine large hydropower plants (installed capacity of 10.3 GW) connected to the high voltage grid.

Despite the problems that historically affected the public irrigation districts, private irrigation in the valley is a success because one can control the water supply - not too much, not too little-almost to the level of an industrial process. Presently, private entrepreneurs operate most of the agricultural production. There is an ambitious US$ 3 billion engineering project recently completed to divert water from the San Francisco River to the other river basins located in the Semiarid. The idea is to use the infrastructure in its full capacity only in wet years, when the excess of water would flow to the reservoirs of the recipient area, rather than to the Atlantic Ocean.


Hydropower; Inter Basin Water Transfer; Irrigation; San Francisco River Basin, Water Dispute

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