(TODAY PANAMA) The drainage of an artificial 1.5 million -cubic meter-reservoir to save a thousand head of cattle downriver, is one of the extreme measures taken in Panama to alleviate the intense drought.
The Alajuela and Gatún reservoirs, whose water enables the working of the interoceanic canal locks, register this month the lowest level in the last 103 years and, if the volume keeps reducing, next month authorities will consider limiting the draft of ships crossing the canal.
Both reservoirs also supply drinkable water to half of the country’s population which is concentrated near the river banks, therefore saving water is the only way to avoid rationing.
Meanwhile, the Lajas Lake, in the central province of Coclé, is the reservoir used to grow rice in the area, but in light of the emergency of at least 30 small livestock breeders, the Ministry of Agricultural Development decided to open its gates.
Based on the social principle that water is a collective heritage, the Ministry decided to open the lake’s floodgates and flood some dry riverbeds to serve as watering place for animals, despite the opposition of some rice producers who oppose the support to the cattle farmers.
Minister Jorge Arango said that the drought will continue and the situation will become worse, therefore they are doing everything in their power to face the consequences, since the agricultural and livestock sector is the most affected.
The country decreed a national emergency due to the drought affecting the country’s southern areas as a consequence of El Niño weather phenomena, while northern areas have registered flooding due to heavy rains.