PANAMA’S WATER needs are likely to be outstripped by a fast increasing population and a greater influx of tourists, raising concerns about the lack of long term planning.
The country’s water and sewer agency Idaan will build three purification plants to meet the growing demand in Panama City, but that say observers will not meet demand.
Currently the city's water mainly comes from Gatún and Alajuelas lakes.
The three new plants, being built in Gamboa, Howard and La Arenosa, will produce a combined 170 million gallons per day. But the water is all coming from the same place, the drainage basin of the Panama Canal.
Panama Canal Authority Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said that alternate sources need to be found to meet the needs of the population reports La Prensa.
Quijano said that one potential source is the Bayano reservoir, where fresh water is used to generate electricity.
The metropolitan area of Panama has a population of 1.8 million people, but, according to recent estimates, in the year 2035 the number of inhabitants will increase to 3 million.
Quijano said that the demand has also been influenced by the increase in tourists to the country. In 2015 some 2.5 million visitors entered Panama, an increase of 1.5 million from 2005.
He added that the government needs to address this situation now rather than waiting until the situation becomes an emergency.
Last year the Canal authority prepared emergency measures limiting the draft of ships passing through the canal, and this year the drought brought on by El Nino is likely to be more prolonged.