20 years of canal control for Panama

Tuesday December 31, 2019 marked two decades of control over the Canal following its return by the United States.

On December 31, 1999 Panama‚Äôs flag was raised over the Canal administration building for the first time in history. 

sovereignty over the Canal came after 85 years of management by the US. 

Twenty years later, the canal continues to be in the possession of Panama. While that fact is something to be celebrating, recurrent droughts leave the country fearing the impacts climate change may be having on this vital resource. 

According to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the rainfall deficit reached 27 percent in 2019 compared to the average.

Along with high the temperature of Gatun Lake, the main tributary of the Canal, which increased by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past ten years,  there has been a significant loss of water. 

The canal only had three billion cubic meters of water this year, instead of the 5.2 billion cubic meters needed for its normal operation.

"Climate change is already hitting us. For me, this is the main threat hanging over the Canal," former administrator Jorge Quijano told AFP.

To remedy the situation, Panama is studying the possibility of finding other freshwater resources for the Canal, such as pumping or desalinating seawater, or even building reservoirs.