The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) says the suspension of the first draft restriction that was scheduled to go into effect 8 September 2015, as announced previously to all shipping agents, owners and operators working with the Canal.
Although the level of Gatun Lake is still well below normal levels for this time of the year, and the “El Niño” phenomenon is still present in the region, the amount of rainfall received in the Canal watershed during the last few days—in addition to the water conservation measures implemented and the works done to deepen the navigational channel—has made it possible for the Panama Canal to suspend the announced restriction. Therefore, and until further notice, vessels will continue to be allowed to transit at their maximum Panama Canal approved draft up to 12.04 m (39.5 ft) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW).
The Panama Canal will continue to monitor and manage the water levels of Gatun and Madden (Alajuela) Lakes. The draft restrictions may again be necessary should weather conditions change and the level of Gatun Lake begins to fall, in which case, the restriction will be announced with at least four weeks advance notice.
The Panama Canal is experienced in water resource management and has responded to similar situations requiring preventative adjustments of operations in the past. The Canal will continue to provide information on the measures being taken and to closely monitor the situation to ensure the security and efficiency of its services.
The most recent El Niño phenomenon involving similar conditions took place during the 1997–1998 seasons.
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