PANAMA CANAL WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
From an operational standpoint, the greater Panama Canal Watershed, of which the Chagres River basin is the largest component part, is a managed, natural-artificial water resource system composed of sub-basins, rivers, lakes, dams, and spillways. An evolving understanding of the hydrometeorological characteristics of the watershed and interrelationships among different hydrometeorological variables (including: precipitation, water losses, gross and net runoff, evaporation, and water uses) provides the basis for current water resources management. This is accomplished through units with distinct structure, functions, and responsibilities that employ such modern tools as a telemetric network for hydrometeorological data acquisition, digital data banks, weather radar, satellite data processing stations, NOAA Port, meteorological and hydrological forecasting models, radio sonde operations, and a recently-implemented water resources management decision support system (DSS). Important aspects of watershed management are the El Niño and La Niña events that produce situations of drought or flood and have led to a specific Flood Control Program and Drought Management Strategy. As the Panama Canal Authority looks ahead to the second century of canal operation, there is a developing interest in natural resources and environmental protection throughout the Panama Canal Watershed.