So Panama Canal acts against climate change and El Niño

EDITORS NOTE: EMBARGOED FOR USE UNTL SUNDAY DECEMBER 12 -- KRT WORLD NEWS STORY SLUGGED: PANAMACANAL KRT PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID WALTERS/MIAMI HERALD (FORT LAUDERDALE OUT) (KRT10 - December 10 ) Two Panamanian workers stroll down one of the locks at Miraflores, the gateway to the Pacific Ocean on the Panama Canal, Panama.  A giant oil tanker awaits passage through the canal gates in the background. On Tuesday December 14 Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will hand over the keys to the Panama Canal. (MI) AP PL BL KD 1999 (Vert.) (kn) (Additional photos available on KRT Direct, KRT/PressLink or upon request)

The Panama Canal remains operational for the conservation of water resources in order to address global climate change and El Niño that caused historic levels of low rainfall in the watershed of the waterway actions.

As part of responsible water management, the Panama Canal takes several months applying conservation actions as no generation in Gatun hydroelectric plant and eliminating the use of hydraulic assistance in the operation of the locks.

Other measures include cross filled in cameras, cameras lockages short to save water in the operation and joint lockages including the transit of more than one ship in a lock.

In addition to operational activities, the Panama Canal has an active plan for the protection of forests and reforestation, within and outside the watershed.

Projects deepening of the navigation channel of the Panama Canal also contributed to improved water supplies.

Studies prepared by the team of meteorologists Panama Canal show that the country faces a period of relative drought over the past two years as a result of the phenomena associated with climate change that is registered worldwide and El Niño at the regional level This year in particular.

Thanks to a short rainy season at the end of 2014, operating levels and Alhajuela Gatun lakes, major suppliers of drinking water to the cities of Panama and Colon were recovered. However, Basin aquifer recharge failed enough, therefore, the lake levels remain low during the first half of 2015.

Reduced rainfall
The rainfall forecast for the remainder of 2015 and early 2016 indicates that the drought will persist, due to the El Niño phenomenon, which has already led to record levels of low rainfall.

For example, the month of May 2015 was the least rainy Canal Basin in the last fifty years and the recently concluded June was the least rainy of the last 102 years.

With regard to the series of 102 years of records the contributions of net water accumulated from January to June in the Canal Watershed, the first half of 2015 is the third with the poorest contribution during this period, surpassed only by the 1920 and 1977.

Rainfall in the Canal Watershed has been below average in 20 of the last 22 months.

The Panama Canal is supported by a team of meteorologists and hydrologists, own satellite imaging systems, weather radar, data bases centuries, models predicting rainfall, river flows and elevations and lakes, and systems for decision support for the management of water resources.

Increased consumption

Ensure water quality and quantity for the population is the priority of the Panama Canal in the management of water resources of the Panama Canal, although the levels of human and industrial consumption of drinking water taken from lakes Gatun and Alhajuela, They have risen steeply in recent years.

Projected levels of consumption in 2025 were achieved in 2012, driven by economic growth increases demand for the development of new neighborhoods and buildings.

Around 1.9 million people are supplied with water from lakes Gatun and Alhajuela, which represents more than half the population.

This situation is exacerbated by patterns of overconsumption and waste that increase the demand for water at 400 liters / person / day. With this figure, Panama exceeds more than twice the average consumption of water to all Latin American countries.

Alhajuela lakes Gatun and water sources are finite. It is imperative to recognize that sustaining the country’s economic development must consider the climate phenomena that impact the world and, moreover, should go hand in hand with the identification, conservation and watershed protection.



Ernesto Chong de León, Ernesto Emilio Chong Coronado