Panama Canal begins filling new locks

Panama Canal Begins Filling New Locks


Workers at the Panama Canal expansion have begun filling the lower chamber of its new Atlantic locks. The operation is the beginning of a the testing phase for the project, the Panama Canal Authority said in a statement.

“This event highlights the magnitude of what we have been working on for the past seven years,” said Panama Canal Administrator/CEO Jorge L. Quijano. “Filling the locks with water is the culmination of arduous years of labor and the realization that we are within arm’s reach of the completion of one of the most impressive infrastructure projects of our time.”

The initial phase of filling will take five days. The water level within the lower chambers of the new locks will be gradually raised, pumping in about 50,000 cubic meters of water per hour from Gatun Lake. This will allow for the testing of the first gates.

The same process will then fill the rest of the Atlantic sections of locks, reaching a water level of 27 meters above sea level. Tests and inspections are expected to take approximately four months.

Each lock complex includes rolling gates and nine water-saving basins with a filling and emptying side system.

“With the addition of these water-savings basins,” said Quijano, “we will recycle nearly 60 percent of the water used in every lockage, using the world’s most advanced systems and enhancing the Canal’s reliability. With this new phase, expansion nears closer and closer to completion.”

As of the end of May, the overall Expansion Program of the Panama Canal stood at 89.8 percent complete.