SEVEN YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE expansion of the Canal came into operation. Since then, the interoceanic highway has faced new and important challenges, one of which is maintaining the availability of water not only for the operations of the road, but also the need for consumption for the population and the productive activities of the country.
Today, they are again faced with a situation of lack of the resource, reflected by the impact of climate change, and the fundamental point is that the country, not only the interoceanic highway, depends on good water management despite being surrounded by it says Ricaurte Vásquez the Canal administrator.
"The availability of water, in general, is approximately between 50 and 54 lockages per day, and it depends on the amount of rain we have," said Vásquez.
However, these rains have been decreasing since the transfer of the canal in the last 20 years, together with other recurring phenomena that have impacted such as droughts.
In the case of water for the canal in the metropolitan area, there are two components, one of them, is the storage of water in general, either through reservoirs, or auxiliary dams, however, the conclusion of a study carried out by engineers of the United States Army, revealed that both Lake Alajuela and Gatun have already exceeded their capacity.
The country has approximately 52 basins, but, according to Vásquez, it is necessary to solve the water problem from the point of view of the water for the population; The fastest route has been the use of the lakes of the Panama Canal as a source of raw water to be able to make it drinkable.
The warning of this is that, between the traffic on the road, plus the population growth, the capacity of the lakes as it is known "is already exhausted".
In fact, Vásquez anticipated that with all the expansions of plants that draw water from the lake today that are equivalent to approximately 5 transits per day, and those that are being built and that were approved in 2015, the extraction of water from the lake will double.
This would mean that of the 50 to 54 equivalent transits, 10 to 11 equivalent transits will be dedicated to the supply of drinking water for the population, so solutions must be found and these solutions and "these solutions take time" from 3 to 10 years , as these are complicated projects that have an important presence in the community and can affect it.
The administrator maintained that it would be necessary to find sources of water that are not within the hydrographic basin, sources of water either for potabilization outside the basin, or bring more water to the Panama Canal and use Gatun Lake to regulate the water supply and purification, or make an intermediate combination between the two.
"The analysis received by the Corps of Engineers projects the demands for the next 50 years in order to have a solution of programs that will successively meet the country's water needs," he added.