52 Million Gallons of Water

52 Million Gallons of Water

Panama. It is hard for me to comprehend 52 million gallons of water. But it is the amount of water required to move one ship (just one) through the lock system of the Panama Canal. With approximately 40 ships going thru each day, 365 days a year, just do the math. A staggering quantity considering the water is not recycled and ends up in the ocean.

So where does it all come from? Is it fresh water or salt? How is it replenished? A lot of questions tumbling thru my brain as we pull into the lock behind a large container ship and the water starts pouring in behind massive gates. And a little unnerving.

The water, it turns out, comes from 1.5 million hectares of protected rainforest which surrounds the canal. The day after our partial canal transit by boat, I find myself in one of four cool helicopters (reminding me of the TV show MASH) flying over the rainforest in formation. The water collects in the Gaton Lake (partially seen in the photo) and is released into the ocean (all 52 million gallons) each time a transit is made.

Without the forest, there would be no canal. Without the canal, there might be no rainforest since deforestation is occurring at a rapid pace. For me, it is an amazing feat of nature and man working together to provide an efficient trade route between the Caribbean/Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.