The Panama canal said it would implement a series of new measures beginning 15 February 2020 to sustain an operational level of water
The news comes in light of changing waterfall patterns and historic low water levels at Gatun Lake which is the main source for the canal.
The Panama Canal Authority said despite extensive water-conservation measures, this past year’s rainfall was 20% below the historic average and the fifth-driest year in 70 years.
It follows several years of lower than average rainfall coupled by a 10% increase in water evaporation levels due to a 0.5-1.5ºC rise in temperature.
Without fees and operational changes, the canal’s water levels are projected to drop to levels that would affect the Neopanamax and Panamax Locks. These new measures are intended to provide reliable water levels and transit schedules.
The Authority said the new measures will allow the canal to better anticipate the number and type of ships transiting and allocate water resources accordingly.
Customers will be provided with real-time data on current and projected levels of Gatun Lake, available maximum drafts, and the number and types of transits when requesting transits or making reservations. The official lake levels will be published daily, and forecast for the following two months.
The measures include:
The Canal also said it will invest in programmes addressing the sustainability of the water supply in the medium and long-term and continue to dedicate a portion of its income to analysing and identifying solutions to the problem of water availability in the watershed.