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Testing of Atlantic Water-Saving Basins Complete

Posted on March 14, 2016

The testing of the Panama Canal’s Atlantic-facing Agua Clara locks’ water-saving basins is now complete. This milestone brings the canal’s expansion program another step closer to completion, with less than four percent remaining.

To ensure that the quality established in the contract was met, the water-saving basins were filled and emptied to confirm they were watertight and to properly assess the structure’s dividing walls and lining. During the testing period, all of the new locks’ systems were also examined, including the gates, valves, electricity and controls.

The testing of the Pacific-facing Cocoli locks’ water-saving basins is nearly complete. The upper chamber’s basins are expected to be assessed this month. In September last year, the Panama Canal Authority announced that the leak that had occurred during earlier testing was the result of insufficient steel reinforcing. Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the consortium responsible for the design and construction of the Third Set of Locks Project, successfully completed testing the reinforcement upgrade in February this year.

The water-saving basins reuse 60 percent of the water used per lockage. For each of the three chambers in the Agua Clara and Cocoli Locks, there are a total of three water-savings basins, bringing the total to 18 basins for the Third Set of Locks Project.

Each is massive, having a surface area equivalent to 25 Olympic-size pools, which utilize state-of-the art hydraulic technology.

During each uplockage, 40 percent of the water is transferred to the chamber from the water-saving basins through lateral culverts (or underground channels), while the remaining 60 percent fills the chamber by gravity.

Then, during each downlockage, 60 percent of the water from the chamber returns to the water-saving basins, and the remaining water is transferred to the remaining chambers until reaching the sea.

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