Daily traffic at the canal is down by nearly 40% compared to last year

Gatún Lake, the reservoir that enables the operation of the Panama Canal, is at its lowest water level ever for the start of a dry season, as reported by the New York Times. The extreme drought affecting the region appears likely to last into May, given that Panama’s dry season typically runs from January to May.

The canal has reduced daily traffic by nearly 40% compared to last year, prompting many shipping companies to reroute vessels to longer ocean routes.

Each ship passing through the Panama Canal requires around 50 million gallons of fresh water drawn from two man-made lakes to raise and lower the vessel through a system of locks. Most of this water gets flushed out to sea as the ship completes its journey across the isthmus. “The fact that the Panama Canal operates on fresh water is a major disadvantage compared to other water routes,” commented Ricaurte Vásquez Morales, the administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, in a video address late last year.

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