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Panama Canal amends prequalification document for optimised water management system

Panama Canal amends prequalification document for optimised water management system
The Canal suffered its fifth driest year in 70 years in 2019

The Panama Canal has amended the prequalification document for a tender for the engineering, design and construction of an optimised water management system.

The decision to amend the document was made after the Canal received more than 250 potential bidder inquiries following the opening of the prequalification period on September 7, 2020.

This tender is the first component of a programme that, as a whole, will maintain the objective of managing water resources in an integrated manner to provide an adequate water supply for both Canal operations and local consumption for the next 50 years.

Competition will be encouraged with these modifications without altering the project schedule.

José Reyes, vice president of water projects at the Panama Canal, said: “Based on the information received from interested companies and market conditions, modifications have been made to the process to strengthen the viability of the project, as well as its attractiveness to potential bidders.”

The first component now focuses on the development of solutions to maximise the storage of water within the Panama Canal watershed which covers two pillars of the programme: water storage and technological integration of the system.

The watershed is not expected to have the capacity to meet the demand for water alone in a sustainable manner which leads into the second component of the programme.

The second component will be an outcome of the first component and will be executed through contracts for the study, design and construction of a solution that complements the water volumes achieved by maximising storage in Gatun Lake.

However the amendment preserves the financial and technical requirements of the request for qualifications, including a successful track record of project execution.

Interest companies have until January 2021 to submit their applications for prequalification.

The goal is to guarantee the water supply for half of the country’s population, concentrated in the provinces of Panama, Colon and West Panama, in addition to the operation of the Canal for the next 50 years.

The optimised water resource management system consists of a portfolio of projects to strengthen and modernise the current one.

In 2019, the Panama Canal watershed experienced its fifth driest year in 70 years as a result of climate change.

This severely constrained water levels the Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes, which are the main sources of water for the Canal and half of Panama’s population.

Despite extensive use of water conservation measures at the Canal already, water levels were projected to drop below operational levels that would cause an unprecedented impact on customers if no further adjustments were made accordingly.

The Canal implemented measures, such as a charge for fresh water that came into effect for February, on top of water conservation practices already in place to combat this scenario.

As a result, the Canal has secured a steady draft in less than three months and recently the draft level has been at 50 ft – the highest allowed and most offered in more than 20 months.

The Panama Canal aims to advance its vision of staying competitive, providing reliability to customers and continuing to serve as an engine for the country’s development through investing in a robust water management system.