Photo: Roger W / CC BY-SA 2.0

More ships to pass through Panama Canal daily as water levels rise

The Panama Canal Authority has announced an increase to its draft from 46 to 47 feet (14.33 metres), with a further increase to 48 feet (14.063 metres) set for July 11. Moreover, a new booking slot for the Neopanamax locks will be added to the canal on August 5th, bringing the total number of transits to 35 ships per day.

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The news follows announcements earlier last month in which it was confirmed that daily transits shall rise from 32 to 33 from July 11th, and to 34 from July 22nd.

The increase in transits is thanks to a rise in the current and projected water levels in the Gatun Lake, as well as the arrival of the rainy season in the Panama Canal watershed.

The announcement on extra transits also coincided with the 8th anniversary of the Expanded Panama Canal.

In a press release commemorating the anniversary, the canal’s authority said that the waterway “continues to manage the impact of the prolonged dry season that last year limited its capacity for daily transits”.

“Despite the arrival of the rainy season, the challenge of water for Panama and the Panama Canal remains and serves as a reminder that climate change and its effects are a reality requiring immediate attention and concrete action,” said the Panama Canal authority, in its press release.

The canal authority adds that potential solutions to this include the identification of alternative sources of water from the 51 watersheds and lakes in Panama, along with projects that can increase storage capacity to ensure water availability for the entire Panamanian population and the Canal’s operation.

In addition to this, the Panama Canal Authority says it is exploring “additional short- and long-term solutions that can optimise the use and storage of water at the Canal for the benefit of both the local population and its own operations”.

Photo: Roger W / CC BY-SA 2.0