Panama Canal implements pilot plan to desalinize drinking water

The Panama Canal today reported on the implementation of a pilot plan to test efficiency and costs in the process of water desalination, with the aim of maintaining the quality of the resource for human consumption, which supplies the interoceanic route to almost 60 percent of the Panamanian population.

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP), responsible for the handling of this navigation shortcut between the Atlantic and the Pacific, explained that the project was launched given the increase in the levels of saltwater meddling resulting from the operation of the transit of ships in various sections of Lake Gatún (main water source of the road).

He said that the increase has been the result of the effects of the continued production due to the phenomenon of El Niño 2023-2024, in particular in the sector of Escobal, whose drinking water is supplied by a plant of the – state-Idaan (National National Aqueduct and Sewers Institute).

The canal administration detailed that the canal installed a desalinizing plant in the Escobal district (in the northern province of Columbus), with capacity to supply 6,000 people per day (assuming an average daily consumption of 200 liters per person).

He stressed in a statement that this seeks to study and test the efficiency and costs of reverse osmosis technology.

The ACP pointed out that the pilot scheme, which is carried out in coordination with the Idaan, will operate for a period of six months and will allow for experience in controlled conditions.

In addition, he stressed that this project addresses the need to maintain the quality of drinking water for human consumption as a first priority, while longer-term solutions are being explored to ensure the quantity and quality of water in the lakes of the Panama Canal.

The unpredictability of the rains due to the El Niño phenomenon, exacerbated by climate change, has imposed new limitations on the Panama Canal’s operational capacity to care for global trade.