State of emergency declared over drought

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It’s an agricultural disaster for farmers. Photo by Eric Jackson.

For the next 60 days you may be fined for watering a lawn with potable water, police will show less patience when people block the roads over water outages, fire permits are suspended and there won’t be any new irrigation permits

Cabinet declares drought emergency

by Eric Jackson

Government and PanCanal meteorologists predict that we won’t get much rain, especially on the Pacific Side, until the heavy seasonal rains come in October and November. Those annual cloudbursts, they expect, will end early and we will get into a more severe El Niño dry season that will stretch into next year. Many farms and communities have lost their water sources or are about to, the Panama Canal has imposed draft restrictions and our ability to generate electricity at the nation’s hydroelectric dams is threatened.

Thus the cabinet has decreed a 60-day state of emergency that should get us to the October rains, after which new measures may be announced. In the meantime, there is no watering of lawns or gardens with potable water allowed — wastewater is allowed for such purposes — and the government will be issuing no new irrigation permits. Existing fire permits are also suspended, to prevent the bomberos from having to use precious water supplies to put out fires that get out of control.

At the same press conference at which Environment Minister Mirei Endara announced the new measures, Security Minister Rodolfo Aguilera announced that police would be less tolerant of road blockages, moving in with clubs and tear gas more quickly than has been the practice. This policy is without regard to the cause of the particular protest, but with the drought and consequent breakdowns in many water systems we are seeing a lot more traffic disruptions over water outages than is normally the case at this time of the year.

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Seen from above. NOAA photo.


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