Literature has suggested that droughts and societies are mutually shaped and, therefore, both require a better understanding of their coevolution on risk reduction and water adaptation. Although the São Paulo Metropolitan Region drew attention because of the 2013–2015 drought, this was not the first event. This paper revisits this event and the 1985–1986 drought to compare the evolution of drought risk management aspects. Documents and hydrological records are analyzed to evaluate the hazard intensity, preparedness, exposure, vulnerability, responses, and mitigation aspects of both events. Although the hazard intensity and exposure of the latter event were larger than the former one, the policy implementation delay and the dependency of service areas in a single reservoir exposed the region to higher vulnerability. In addition to the structural and non-structural tools implemented just after the events, this work raises the possibility of rainwater reuse for reducing the stress in reservoirs. © 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.