El Nino is influencing the amount of annual rainfall we have had this year, which is far less than normal. Combining the shortfall of water with the fact that Panama is one of the countries with the highest water consumption rate in Latin America, we are going to see major shortages this summer.
Panama has only 3 ways of making electricity to serve the country. Water hydroelectric plants (produce the most electricity), bunker electric plants that work with oil and more recently eolic wind mills are currently the methods used in Panama.
This means that brown outs will start this summer. As the water is no longer available to run the hydro plants there will be no electricity.
In August, the Panama Government put into place a law barring the use of drinking water to water lawns, gardens and golf courses. This is only the beginning of more strict water consumption restrictions to come this summer.
In addition in some areas of Panama, towns are already rationing water on a daily basis with no water available during the day time. This could take effect all over Panama as the dry season approaches shortly.
It is our duty as residents of Panama to do our part in conserving water now and prepare for power outages.
• Turn off the facet when brushing your teeth
• Do less laundry and make sure when you do a load it is full
• Check for leaks in toilets and facets that drip
• Take shorter showers
• Stop watering outdoor plants
• Stock up on bottled water
• Collect rainwater to use around the yard
• Get emergency lighting ready, prepare for electric outages
The water problem in Panama will continue as El Nino will be around for a few years. In addition Panama is trying to find ways to create electricity as this will be an ongoing problem with more people moving here and the need for water and electricity grows.