Autodesk Water
Connecting Waterpeople
Autodesk Water Webinar Series - April 30th, 10h (UTC+1)

You are here

Water management in Panama: challenges and solutions for a sustainable future

  • Water management in Panama: challenges and solutions for sustainable future

About the entity

Panama, with its 52 watersheds and extensive river network, has an extraordinary hydrological heritage (it has 52 watersheds that provide a water availability of 119 billion cubic meters, resulting in approximately 29,000 cubic meters of freshwater per capita available), but faces significant challenges in water management. These challenges are exacerbated by population growth, climate variability, and lack of adequate infrastructure and policies.

In addition, water management is closely linked to the Panama Canal, a critical waterway for world trade and the country's economy which, according to its general manager, Ricaurte Vásquez, faces "a bleak outlook for the waterway to remain competitive in the face of the water crisis."

In this regard, the country needs to focus on integrated water resource management, taking into account technical, socioeconomic and public service aspects, and avoiding the influence of political factors. Likewise, the planning and construction of water infrastructure is a pending task that has remained unfinished for decades. This lack of action has contributed to the current situation.

The main water challenges

Among the main water challenges facing water management in Panama are the following:

  • The need to improve access to drinking water and sanitation services is urgent. In addition, there is the challenge of maintaining a quality water supply for the entire population. To this end, the conservation and sustainable management of the country's 52 watersheds is vital for water security and ecological well-being.
  • Climate change, manifested in phenomena such as El Niño, has led to periods of extreme drought, affecting the availability of water for human consumption, agriculture and the operation of the Panama Canal. For example, the Gatun reservoir, which supplies more than 50% of the country's population, faces challenges due to lack of rainfall and saltwater intrusion.
  • Institutional deterioration and the lack of a culture of responsible water use among citizens. There is also a critical need to update the tariff system.
  • Significant improvement is needed in water and sanitation infrastructure, as well as in technological capacity for efficient water resource management.

The future of water management in Panama

Water management in Panama is at a critical point that requires a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to address these challenges and ensure a sustainable future in terms of water resources.

The country has a Water Security Plan 2015-2050, a roadmap to be implemented so that water improves the quality of life of citizens, supports inclusive socioeconomic growth in the country and ensures environmental protection. Thus, this plan establishes clear goals to address the water management challenges in Panama, such as universal access to drinking water, preventive management of water-related risks and the maintenance of healthy watersheds. However, for this plan to be effective, financing, technical advice and efficient management need to be an integral part.

Through the effective implementation of the National Water Security Plan and greater cooperation between the different actors involved, Panama can overcome these challenges and ensure a sustainable future for its water resources.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Topics of interest

The data provided will be treated by iAgua Conocimiento, SL for the purpose of sending emails with updated information and occasionally on products and / or services of interest. For this we need you to check the following box to grant your consent. Remember that at any time you can exercise your rights of access, rectification and elimination of this data. You can consult all the additional and detailed information about Data Protection.

Featured news