In line with its records, October will conclude with an estimated 215 millimeters of precipitation, which represents 35% below the historical average of 331 millimeters, and places it as the third-lowest in the last 70 years.
Due to climate change, many are the regions of the country heavily impacted by drought, as there is a state of emergency in the provinces of Coclé, Colón, Darién, Herrera, Los Santos, and Veraguas, by the Cabinet Council.
Therefore, the Panama Canal has already redoubled the measures it applies to conserve water and have more efficient operations of the interoceanic highway.
Accordingly, the measures in Canal operations:
- These measures include the suspension of power generation at the Gatún hydroelectric plant since October 2018 so as not to wastewater through the turbines.
- During the transit of vessels, conservation actions are implemented such as the elimination of hydraulic assistance in the Panamax locks, which speed up the transit of the ships but imply greater use of water.
- Cross-locks are applied, that is, water is sent between the two lanes of the Panamax locks during transits, to reduce their discharge to the sea.
- To the extent that the size of the vessels allows it, two ships are traveled at the same time.
- There is intensive use of water-saving tubs in the neo-Panamax locks.
The drought and low rainfall have resulted to the decrease of the level of the Gatun and Alhajuela reservoirs that supply water to half of the country’s population below average, also posing the risk of not reaching adequate margins to face next season dry.
The Canal highlights that if this situation continues, the reservoirs will depend on rainfalls such as those that occurred in 2010 with the storm La Purísima and Otto in 2016, so that Gatún and Alhajuela reach sufficient levels to meet the population’s water demand during the dry season and to Channel operations.