Due to changing rainfall patterns and historic low water levels at Gatun Lake, the main source of water for the waterway, the Panama Canal announced that it will implement a series of new measures beginning February 15 to sustain an operational level of water and provide reliability to customers while it implements a long-term solution to water.
Despite the use of extensive water-conservation measures, this past year's rainfall was 20 percent below the historic average and the fifth driest year in 70 years. It follows several years of lower than average rainfall coupled by a 10 percent increase in water evaporation levels due to a 0.5-1.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature.
Without fee and operational changes, the Canal's water levels are projected to drop to levels that would affect the Neopanamax and Panamax Locks. These new measures are intended to better provide reliability in water levels and therefore transit schedules.