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Water shortage leaves Rio dry

Taps have run dry across a large part of Rio de Janeiro, some for nearly a week straight, prompting a flurry of criticism of the state water company and forcing some desperate residents of the Olympic city to fill plastic bottles with water from streams.

Rio's Cedae water utility cut off service to nearly a dozen Rio districts on Thursday as part of routine maintenance on a treatment plant on the Guandu River, the main water source for the city of six million.

The utility had said it could take up to 72 hours for service to be restored. But long after that period passed, many parts of the city remained without water. Cedae later pledged that water would be restored to all households by the end of Tuesday.

The 11 districts affected include beachfront Leme, chic Santa Teresa, stately Flamengo, as well as Maracana, home to the football stadium where next year's World Cup final will be played.

A recent cover of O Globo newspaper showed enterprising residents of the upmarket Cosme Velho district filling large plastic bottles from a fresh-water fountain. Many apartment buildings have relied on water delivery trucks to keep their storage tanks full.

Exasperated Rio residents took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about the wait for water and criticise state officials.

The debacle, less than a year ahead of the World Cup and two and a half years before the city hosts the 2016 Olympic games, underscores its problems with basic services such as water and sewage treatment.

Residents who can avoid drinking tap water for fear of contamination and nearly half of the city's households aren't connected to the sewers, meaning that tons of raw sewage flow into the city's rivers, lagoons and onto its beaches daily.

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