It is not an exclusive concern of the Panama Canal or the country; it is a global problem that affects humanity. The year 2023 records historically high temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, exacerbated by the presence of the El Niño phenomenon, which raises the temperature of the Pacific Ocean and, in the case of Panama, delayed the start of the rainy season, resulting in a significant decrease in the levels of freshwater in the reservoirs of the Panama Canal, essential for its operation.
To address these challenges, the Canal has taken water-saving measures to supply 55% of the population and provide competitive and continuous service to global maritime trade.
One of the implemented measures is cross-filling in the Panamax locks. This maneuver involves reusing water from one lock chamber for use in the other, saving the equivalent of the average consumption of five daily transits.
Additionally, to the extent that the size of the vessels allows, simultaneous lockages are performed, with two ships transiting at the same time, occupying the same chamber.
Furthermore, the transit schedule has been optimized to maximize water savings in each chamber and accommodate the highest number of vessels. In the neopanamax locks, the direction and scheduling of transits are analyzed to make the most of every drop of this resource.
Since 2020, the Canal has been working on the Water Program. This initiative seeks to provide a comprehensive response to the water challenge, with a focus on ensuring this vital resource for the next 50 years.
As announced two weeks ago, starting November 1st, the average transits through the Canal will be adjusted to 31 vessels per day: nine through the neopanamax locks and 22 through the panamax locks. Customers are recommended to make reservations, when possible, to secure their transit through the route.
The Panama Canal announces any measures that may affect customers well in advance, before the furthest vessel departs. Additionally, the maritime route provides real-time information for customers to make their business decisions, through the links also maintained at the bottom of this note.
The Panama Canal fulfills its constitutional responsibility to manage freshwater resources for human consumption and provide efficient service to global maritime trade through a transparent and sustainable approach.
Vessels in queue for transit
Real-time Weather Radar Animation (updated every 5 minutes)
Daily average level of Alhajuela reservoir for the last 12 months
Daily average level of Gatun Reservoir for the last 12 months
Daily precipitation (rainfall) by sub-basins (Alhajuela/Gatun) and cumulative in CHCP current year 2023
About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is an autonomous legal entity of the Republic of Panama in charge of the operation, administration, management, preservation, maintenance, and modernization of the Panama Canal, as well as its activities and related services, so that the Canal may operate in a safe, continuous, efficient manner. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s website: https://www.pancanal.com or follow us on Twitter @thepanamacanal.