Spanish version

MARITIME AFFAIRS

ACP concerned about level of Gatún Lake

Its level yesterday was 81.1 feet. Restrictive measures need to be taken at 79 feet.

Spanish version

Temas:

A severe El Niño effect has decreased rainfall in the Panama Canal basin, reducing the level of Lake Gatún which is essential for both the operation of the waterway and the supply of drinking water to Panama City.

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) may apply drought restriction measures until the level of the lake rises. This would prevent larger vessels from using the Canal due to concerns that they would run aground.

The lake's level is 81.1 feet, while restrictive measures need to be implemented at 79 feet. The ACP has already cut hydroelectric production to try and save water, and also had smaller boats transit the locks at the same time. Each time the locks are used, it drains 52 million gallons of water from the lake.

If emergency measures are taking, the ACP will have to give boat owners four to five weeks of notice.

The expansion of the Panama Canal will include the operation of the new locks, which will lose substantially less water when they go into operation next year. 

The last time restrictive measures were put into place was 1998.

The El Niño phenomenon causes a drought in the Pacific area and an excess of rain on the Caribbean coast. The effect can last up to seven years.

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