Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Low levels of water unveil the land that is supposed to be under water during this season  at...
Low levels of water unveil the land that is supposed to be under water during this season at Gatún Lake, Colon, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible -
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Cargo ships cross behind a piece of tall grass at Gatún Lake, Colon, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023...
Cargo ships cross behind a piece of tall grass at Gatún Lake, Colon, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - buoys at the water dam of the Gatún Lake, on the Atlantic side, in the back the Agua Clara Locks...
buoys at the water dam of the Gatún Lake, on the Atlantic side, in the back the Agua Clara Locks in Colón, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Gabriel Aleman, president of the Association of Panama Canal Pilots (Apcp) points out in a...
Gabriel Aleman, president of the Association of Panama Canal Pilots (Apcp) points out in a weather map the rain not falling of the Panama Basins on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023, in Panama City, Panama Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Anchored ships waitin to cross the Panama Canal from the Atlantic side on Monday, Nov. 20, view...
Anchored ships waitin to cross the Panama Canal from the Atlantic side on Monday, Nov. 20, view from Diablillo Beach, Colón, Panama Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - water dam of the Gatún Lake, on the Atlantic side, near the Agua Clara Locks in Colón, on Monday,...
water dam of the Gatún Lake, on the Atlantic side, near the Agua Clara Locks in Colón, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Locals riding horses to cross the  Indio River, main river that could flood what might be the new...
Locals riding horses to cross the Indio River, main river that could flood what might be the new reservoir of water inn the Panama Canal in Limón de Chagres town in Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Elizabeth Delgado speaks with disagreement about the plan of flooding the land, also home for...
Elizabeth Delgado speaks with disagreement about the plan of flooding the land, also home for around 10000 inhabitants to build a new water reservoir in Limón de Chagres town in Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Aerial view of Indio River, main river that could flood what might be the new reservoir of water...
Aerial view of Indio River, main river that could flood what might be the new reservoir of water for the Panama Canal on the land of Limón de Chagres town in Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Aerial view of what might be the new reservoir of the Panama Canal on the land of Limón de...
Aerial view of what might be the new reservoir of the Panama Canal on the land of Limón de Chagres town in Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Students cross the Gatún to go home after school in Ciricito, Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023,...
Students cross the Gatún to go home after school in Ciricito, Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Raquel Luna stands on the ladder that helps her go down to the lake due to the low water levels...
Raquel Luna stands on the ladder that helps her go down to the lake due to the low water levels in Escobal, Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023 Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Aerial view of the Gatún lake in in Ciricito, Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, Photographer:...
Aerial view of the Gatún lake in in Ciricito, Colón on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible - Stumps are seeing emerging during the droughts in the Gatún Lake. in Ciricito, Colón on tuesday,...
Stumps are seeing emerging during the droughts in the Gatún Lake. in Ciricito, Colón on tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, These trunks have been visible during the whole year, it is an indicator of the intense drought at the Panama Canal Bains. Photographer: Walter Hurtado Lozano/Bloomberg
The vestiges of an ancient forest tell the story of just how bad things are at the drought-stricken Panama Canal .
A few hundred feet from the massive ships hauling goods across the globe, gaunt tree stumps rise above the waterline. It's not unusual to see them at the height of the dry season — but now, in the immediate aftermath of what's usually the rainy period, they should be fully submerged.

They are a visible reminder of how drought conditions have paralysed a waterway that moves $270 billion a year in global trade. Restrictions have eased slightly thanks to a unexpected rainy November, but at 24 boats a day, the maximum is still well below than pre-drought daily capacity of about 38 boats.

To keep the lake full enough for 24 ships a day during the dry season, the canal will release water from Lake Alajuela, a secondary reservoir. If rains begin to increase in May, the canal may begin to increase traffic, according to the ACP.

But they are short-term solutions. In the long term, the canal's main solution to chronic water shortages will be to dam the Indio River, west of Gatun Lake, and then drill a tunnel through a mountain to convey fresh water 8 kilometers to the main reservoir.

The Canal Authorities estimates that the project, along with other conservation measures, will cost about US$2 billion. The reservoir will take at least six years to build and fill.

Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible
A combination of climate change and infrastructure is to blame for critical shipping delays at the canal.
Bloomberg.com

Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible

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Walter Hurtado
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Bloomberg: Saving the Panama Canal Will Take Years and Cost Billions, If It’s Even Possible
Copyright Walter Hurtado 2024
Updated Feb 2024
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