The Panama Canal announces that as of October 1, 2023, modifications to the variable component of the Fresh Water Surcharge (FWS) will take effect as part of the Canal’s efforts to manage the maximum draft available to transit the Canal, with the objective of reserving water and improving lake levels impacted by the lack of rainfall.

With this adjustment to the FWS, and given the current level of Gatun Lake, Panama Canal customers will receive a reduction of approximately 50% in the variable rate, compared to the current formula.

The average reduction for a Neopanamax vessel will be B/.19,700 per transit and for a Panamax vessel B/.6,800 per transit.


Changes in rainfall patterns that have been affecting the availability of water in the Panama Canal’s lake system, the main source of water for more than 50% of the population and to guarantee the operation of the interoceanic waterway, led the Canal to adopt measures to optimize its use, including the FWS, starting in 2020.

The Panama Canal incorporated the value of water in the line of Other  Maritime Services (OMS) through a charge for fresh water that depends on the availability of the water resource at the time of transit.

The FWS is applicable to all vessels over 125 feet in length overall (LOA) transiting the Canal.

The year 2023 is recorded as the driest year since the Neopanamax locks have been operating at full capacity, which has progressively reduced the Canal’s reservoir levels. Specialists closely monitor the development of climatic events that affect water availability in the Canal Watershed and have warned that the El Niño phenomenon will aggravate the situation for the coming months.