Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Panama Canal reduces number of ships travelling waterway due to drought

Published:Sunday | October 1, 2023 | 1:02 PM
A cargo ship sails on the Pacific side toward the Panama Canal in Panama City, Tuesday, September 12, 2023. Due to a lack of rainfall, authorities in early August limited the number of ships passing through the canal. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

PANAMA CITY (AP) — The Panama Canal announced Saturday it will reduce the maximum number of ships travelling the waterway to 31 per day, from 32 in August, due to a drought that has reduced the supply of fresh water needed to operate the locks.

That compares to daily averages of 36 to 38 ships per day under normal operation.

Nine ships per day will be allowed to use the new, bigger NeoPanamax locks and 22 per day will be handled through the older Panamax locks.

The Canal Authority guaranteed a draft of 44 feet for ships, in part because 70% of ships using the waterway need at least that depth.

In August, the canal implemented a measure capping the number of ships passing through its locks daily to a maximum of 32.

Not enough rain has fallen to feed the watershed system of rivers and brooks that fill lakes, whose waters in turn fill the locks.

The watershed also supplies freshwater to Panama City, home to about half the country's four million people.

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