Climate change could threaten new Panama Canal expansion

CCTV News

Climate change could threaten new Panama Canal expansion

In Panama, preparations are underway for Sunday’s grand opening of the expanded canal. It’s a nearly $ 6 billion project, more than a decade in the making. But some are warning that climate change may threaten the canal’s future success.

CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Climate change could threaten new Panama Canal expansion

Climate change could threaten new Panama Canal expansion

In Panama, preparations are underway for Sunday's grand opening of the expanded canal. It's a nearly $ 6 billion project, more than a decade in the making. But some are warning that climate change may threaten the canal's future success. CCTV America's Roee Ruttenberg reports.

About 200 million liters of fresh water are needed to push one ship through the country’s famous canal. The heavier the ship, the more water it needs beneath it.

A drought last year forced authorities to restrict the amount of cargo vessels could carry. A few years ago, it was too much water. Excessive flooding brought canal transit to a halt.

More than half of Panamanians get their water from the Panama Canal Authority. By law, they are the priority.

Which means, when levels drop in Gatun Lake in the middle of the canal, canal ship traffic suffers first and foremost.

Right now, just one river supplies the Panama Canal. There have been talks at the national level of building more dams, diverting more rivers to more lakes, to feed the canal, to ensure water levels stay high.