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Thursday, April 17 2014 @ 08:37 PM EDT

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Panamanian Government Will Invest $100 Million in Indigenous Areas

Infrastructure UpgradesPanama's president Ricardo Martinelli gave some very good news to the indigenous areas of the country while attending the inauguration of the improvements made to the Basic Education Center (CEBG) in the neighborhood of 24 de Diciembre. With support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Panama signed an agreement to invest $100 million dollars in the regions of the Kuna Yala, Emberá Wounan and Ngäbe Buglé. Of this total, $30 million dollars will go to support education in the area, and another $70 million dollars will be used to build roads in areas that are difficult to access. Happy for the improvements - Apart from this announcement, the educational community CEBG in the neighborhood of 24 de Diciembre was celebrating. It is that one of their old aspirations finally came true. At a cost of more than $1.5 million dollars several projects were completed, including the expansion and repair of twelve classrooms, restrooms, water fountains, the construction of a new soccer field with a synthetic surface, as well as improvements to the science and computer labs. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: And so, it begins. Look for the government of Panama to be finding new ways to spend money in the indigenous areas. Now that he has declared "peace" and relented on the mining issue, he will be trying to find new ways to make these people happy with him and his administration. Lots of ways. Meaning, lots of money, projects, investments in infrastructure, you name it. He needs to get these votes back into this camp, and he can't afford to spend the rest of his term in office fighting with them.

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Cabinet Authorizes Acquisition of "Pele Marine" System

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Executive Cabinet Council authorized the Panama Maritime Authority to acquire a system known as the "Pele Marine" for $5.3 million dollars. The purchase of the equipment, which was published in Official Gazette, is a control system for the inspection of Panamanian-registered ships and the seafarers who work on these ships. Similarly, the system will simplify and streamline the tasks of inspectors, both of the Directorate General of Seafarers, and the Directorate General of Merchant Marine. The equipment and computers necessary for the implementation and operation of the system will be purchased through the company PELE SYSTEM INC. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Coincidence? Maybe. Ismael Sagel Lopez works for the Directorate General of Merchant Marine of the Panama Maritime Authority. Maybe in the future he will have this little handheld computer device - the "Pele Marine" system - that he will be able to use to check on boats in this territory, do things like issue and register cruising permits, issue departure authorizations, etc. - all electronically and tied into a nationwide computer database. Something like this would make it much harder for a guy like Javier Martin to get away with killing people to steal their boats, for example. Once you're registered in the system, then any inspector on the water would be able to simply plug in the name of your boat, for example, and all of the information in the database would be instantly available on the handheld device. Ain't technology wonderful.

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Options Being Discussed For New Airport at Rio Hato

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Rafael Barcenas, said on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast that they are considering two options for the construction of a new international airport in Rio Hato. President Ricardo Martinelli decided that based on the studies, Rio Hato where the airport will be built, thus ending a dispute among several municipalities to be the headquarters of the new international airport in the interior of the country. Barcenas explained that they are analyzing what would be the most viable economic proposition: they could either build a tunnel for the Inter American highway to pass underneath the runway of the new airport, or they could extend the runway to the North and build the entire airport on that side of the highway, in an area where the state already owns some 7,000 hectares of land. They have not yet made a final decision. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: Google Earth Placemark - If you click on this link a Google Earth placemark file should automatically download to your computer. If you open that file, the Google Earth program should open and it should "fly" you to the point where the Inter American highway crosses over the runway at Rio Hato. The government of Panama has decided to build a new international airport at Rio Hato, and this article is about them trying to decide what to do about the traffic. Back in the "old days" when Rio Hato was a military field, they would just stop the traffic on the road when a plane was taking off or landing.

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Second Phase of Highway Progressing

Infrastructure UpgradesWork is advancing at a good pace on the construction of the second phase of the Madden-Colón highway. This part of the project covers a distance of 35 miles and is a contract valued at $218 million dollars. The work should be done and the road opened by July 2012. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Currently the highway to Colon ends just before the Rey supermarket in Sabanitas. This project will extend the highway the remaining distance, most of the way to downtown Colon. Right now you can zip over to Sabanitas in no time, but then the slow crawl to Colon takes another hour, at least, more during rush hour.

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Wind energy projects in Panama

Infrastructure UpgradesIn order to facilitate the construction and installation of wind turbines and renewable plants in general, and to regulate their development in Panama, the Government is drawing up a new legal framework. The Panamanian authorities have approved 25 applications for the construction of wind farm projects totaling 2,064 MW. A new regulatory framework will promote renewable energy sector. Wind power generation is a priority option for the government of Panama in order to increase the renewable share in the country’s electricity balance. The latter was confirmed by the National Authority of Public Services (ASEP), which informed that 25 wind turbines applications for the construction of wind farms have already been approved. Five of these have already received final authorization while the others are still waiting for the process to be completed. However, for the time being, only one wind farm project is actually under construction, in the province of Coclé, with a capacity of 225 MW. If all the submitted wind farm projects were to be implemented, the new installed capacity would amount to 2,064 MW, which alone could nearly cover the country’s total electricity needs, currently met with an installed capacity of 1,650 MW (mainly from oil) and partly from imports. In order to facilitate the construction and installation of wind turbines and renewable plants in general, and to regulate their development in Panama, the Government is drawing up a new legal framework. (evwind.es)
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ACP Will Manage The Chilibre Water Treatment Plant

Infrastructure UpgradesPresident Ricardo Martinelli announced today that the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant will be managed by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). He said next week he will meet with ACP authorities and that they will be the ones who will administer, manage and operate the Chilibre water treatment plant. "We need the Canal Authority to take control of the water treatment plant so that the situation which we have been going through since 8 December 2010 does not happen again in the capital city," he added. Martinelli said the law which regulates the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) must be changed in order to give them additional further autonomy and financial capability. (Panama America)

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli

Editor's Comment: Message = The IDAAN doesn't know how to effectively manage a water treatment plant. What about the plants in La Chorrera? Is the ACP going to run them as well?

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Government Demands That Chilibre Water Plant Produce At Maximum Levels

Infrastructure Upgrades With the recent crisis in the Chilibre water treatment structural failures have emerged, especially after the work done by the British company Biwater, which aimed above all to maximize water production. In this regard, Rómulo Roux, Minister of Canal Affairs and head of the water crisis, announced that the plant is currently working with four to five pumps, and sometimes six. Roux said the plant should produce 250 million gallons of water, but the maximum that it currently produces is 180 million gallons, which for the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems (Idaan) is a great achievement. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: They call this a "great achievement" because the level of turbidity in the raw source water of Lake Alajuela still has not returned to normal levels. The plant has a total of six pumps and what they have been doing is rotating one off line as they clean out the accumulated sediment. The problem is that this project to expand the plant is not producing to the specifications dictated by the government contract, and now all of that is being called into question. The Chilibre water treatment plant might be able to produce the required 250 million gallons of water per day, in optimum conditions. However the people who still don't have regular water service are demanding answers, and the pressure apparently prompted the Director of IDAAN to resign this week.

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A New Bridge and Highway Following The Pacific Coast

Infrastructure UpgradesPublic Works Minister, Federico Jose Suarez announced the construction of a new bridge and a new roadway that would reach a point between Salalices and Chame, that would follow the coast, in order to prevent traffic jams in Vacamonte and La Chorrera, and for the country's development. He said the new highway would have six lanes. Minister Suárez, who had already spoke about their intentions to build this roadway during previous interviews on TVN, said this time they have conducted the study to estimate the cost of the project. He said the new route would be a toll road. He also said they have performed the technical evaluations, faced with the need and urgency of the project.

The Minister was also concerned with the traffic jam that occurred last weekend on the highway from Arraiján to La Chorrera, which was due to an operation that was being conducted in the area, and the influx of visitors to the fair of La Chorrera. Minister Suarez said the traffic jam was horrible, and we must look for alternatives, and therefore he anticipated that this Thursday he will meet with officials of the Transit Authority and the Transit Police.

The Minister also referred to the work being done to repair the collapsed roadway that accesses the Centennial Bridge, and stated this repair project might take another five months to complete. He said they have driven 83 pilings to stabilize the area, and they would build a retaining wall as part of the final design of a new extension of roadway to reach the bridge that is 178 meters in length from where the road collapsed. He said now there is a retaining wall and pilings to save the section of roadway that did not collapse. Minister Suarez reaffirmed that if the work is considered stable it will remain as it is, or they will make small adjustments, but it will function as filler held in place by the retaining wall and stabilized by the pilings, topped by the roadway to the bridge. The rest of the road is also being repaired, the minister said, indicating that on the three hills that have frequently had mudslides, they are still working there. The Minister said that they are working so that when the roadway is reopened, they will do partial openings. (TVN Noticias)

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IDAAN and MINSA Say Water Is Now Fit For Human Consumption

Infrastructure UpgradesThe water crisis which has been going on in Panama City for the past 47 days seems to finally have come to an end. At a press conference, Manuel Ruiz, the Director of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), announced that the water coming from the taps is fit for human consumption. "The analysis of the Ministry of Health indicates there is no contamination," he said. The IDAAN report indicates turbidity levels in the water coming from the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant have dropped below 5 nephelometric units, and therefore is acceptable for consumption. The water shortage began on 7 December when floods and mudslides generated high levels of turbidity in Lake Alajuela, and has affected Panama City and the district of San Miguelito which have 880,691 and 315,019 inhabitants, respectively.

You Should Not Be Charged For January - The IDAAN will not bill their customers for the month of January due to the irregular supply of water that has been going on for the past 47 days. The 60 water tanker trucks that are distributing water to 40 communities located in the districts of Pedregal, Río Abajo, San Francisco, Parque Lefevre, Betania, Las Cumbres, and 24 de Diciembre will continue to operate until the normal supply of water is restored.

During the crisis some water bottling companies were offering to fill containers for a fee. Such is the case of the company Agua Santa Sofia, located in the Los Pueblos mall, which charges 50 cents per gallon and $ 3.00 for five gallons. Jenny Calle, a customer of the company, believes the sale of water is taking place at a reasonable price. Pedro Meilan, the Administrator of the Authority for Consumer Protection and Competition, said the activity is not illegal and it is up to each company to decide if they want to sell or give away the water. (El Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Well, it's official. I hope you have all learned your lesson. By now you should have installed your own water tank and filters. It became blazingly apparent during this entire crisis that in Panama City the infrastructure to produce drinking water is inadequate at a fundamental level. One little glitch and a million people go without water. Remember when all of the new high rise buildings were first going up and there were questions about shortages of basic and fundamental infrastructure? What we just witnessed was a whole flock of chickens coming home to roost, and there's probably more on the way. Learn from what has happened, adjust, adapt, and overcome.

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Airfield in Azuero Rehabilitated For Tourism Development

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Mayor of the District of Guararé, Luis Carlos Sanchez, requested the appointment of permanent 24 hour staff to monitor the new Augusto Vergara airfield, located in the village of La Enea, in this community. The Mayor said the surveillance is necessary to prevent the airfield from being used for illegal purposes, and that during the night there are no guards, and no lights.

Optimism - Sanchez hopes that with the rehabilitation of this airfield flights will start to come and go to and from this place, with the aim of promoting tourism in the peninsula of Azuero. Recently, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) inaugurated the new airfield after restoration work was completed. This region has the first airfield prepared for the tourist development of the Azuero peninsula. The project also contemplates the rehabilitation of the terminal building, the restructuring and paving of the runway, the installation of a perimeter fence and a new platform (parking area) for aircraft. (Mi Diario)

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"Water Still Cannot Be Declared Fit For Human Consumption"

Infrastructure Upgrades Minister for Canal Affairs Romulo Roux, announced today it is still too early to declare that the water being produced by the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant is fit for human consumption. Roux said they are still working on the Chilibre plant that was affected by high turbidity levels of Lake Alajuela. "Until we can ensure that we consistently produce water below the five levels of turbidity we do not want to declare that the water is drinkable," said Roux, who chairs the Interagency Commission formed to address the crisis. Moreover, the minister said on channel 2 TVN News, that they are increasing production and improving water quality at the Chilibre plant to achieve the levels as they were before the crisis started after the rains of last December. As of today, the water crisis has been ongoing for 49 days. (La Prensa)
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Work To Repair Centennial Bridge Access Road Might Not Be Done Until September

Infrastructure UpgradesAnyone who thought the work to repair the damage to the roadway leading to the Centennial Bridge was going to be quick and easy was wrong. Engineering calculations show the work that needs to be done is not going to be quick, easy, or inexpensive. While they are working at full speed, and against inclement weather, officials of the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) believe that everything could be completed between July and September 2011. Estimates are that the repairs could cost between $15 to $20 million dollars. According to the engineer Masiel Acosta, the Deputy Director of Inspection for the MOP, the work on the project should advance according to schedule. "The project could be delayed and the costs might increase due to bad weather. This situation must be taken into account by the company responsible for delivering the work," said Acosta, who inspects progress on the project daily. There are about 100 people working on this project, including those that deal directly with the piles, reinforcing cages and drivers who work for the company FCC, which is responsible for the work. One of Acosta's goals is to keep them from doing a bad job, and in the end having to spend more money due to irresponsibility. (Mi Diario)

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Water Crisis Could End Today

Infrastructure Upgrades The Ministry of Health will determine today through the use of a bacteriological study of the water being produced by the Chilibre Water Treatment to see if it is fit for human consumption. According to the Minister for Canal Affairs Romulo Roux, experts working in the plant implemented a new substance for treating the water with the aim of improving the quality of treated water. The engineer Carlos Vargas, of the Panama Canal Authority, said that with the new dosing and reduction of turbidity it will be easier to produce the quantity and quality of adequate water. (La Critica)

Editor's Comment: They have been waiting for a few more days for the turbidity in the pipes to settle out, and they are leaving it up to the Ministry of Health to make the formal declaration that the water being produced by the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant is fit for human consumption once again. One thing is clear - the "system" is now running much closer to maximum capacity and there is no room for error. Meaning, if the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant is not running at 100% of capacity, then someone in Panama City is going without water service. Obviously the government of Panama should invest - right now - in an expansion of the capacity of the plant, to build new plants, and to interconnect the existing plants. As it was they had to truck water from La Chorrera to Panama City, for example, because they had excess production capacity up there and an insufficient production capability in Panama City. Why not build a network of pipelines that would allow water from one plant to be quickly and easily distributed to other areas - without having to rely on trucks. Anyway, it looks like the "water crisis" is slowly coming to an end, Thank God. And yes, for the record, I will look for any excuse to put a photo of a hot chick in a bikini on the website. This one is taking a shower. With water. Get it?

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Situation At Chilibre Water Treatment Plant Gradually Improving

Infrastructure UpgradesStabilization is the word used by Rómulo Roux, the Minister for Canal Affairs, in referring to the crisis facing the Chilibre water treatment plant, which has been going on for more than 40 days. Rómulo Roux, who chairs the interagency committee to address this crisis, confirmed that the increased flow into Lake Alhajuela has allowed for the gradual increase of the production of the plant. According to the Minister, who appeared this morning on the channel 13 Telemetro Report news broadcast, more water is being delivered to the homes in the capital and San Miguelito district. This operation has led to a slight increase in turbidity due to the sediments found in the sedimentation basins and filters. Roux explained that with the installation of new feeders they will test a new polymer to purify the water and thus to further increase the flow. Since 8 December 2010, the water treatment plant has faced difficult to work due to the intensity of a storm that caused mudslides into Lake Alajuela, which feeds the Chilibre water treatment plant. (Telemetro)
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Public Bid in March 2011 For Petroleum Exploration in Panama

Infrastructure Upgrades
Juan Manuel Urriola, Secretary of Energy of Panama
Juan Manuel Urriola, Secretary of Energy of Panama
By March of this year Panamanian government officials expect to have a bidding (tender) process ready for the private sector to bid on the first blocks of concessions for the exploration and development of the petroleum industry in the country. This was announced by the Secretary of Energy of Panama, Juan Manuel Urriola, who emphasized there are good prospects in this market for the country. When speaking to channel 13 Telemetro Report , the official said the investigations to determine if there is oil in Panama or not have advanced by some 60%. These studies have concluded "there are strong evidence" of the existence of oil, specifically in the areas of the Azuero, Bocas del Toro, and the Darien, he said. "This contract will give a line to the future of the development of the oil and petroleum industry in Panama," he added.

When speaking on the morning news broadcast, Urriola emphasized that "we as a country will be the administrators, we will receive the royalties, we will receive a percentage of the production for our domestic consumption and, of course, companies will have to pay taxes." Moreover, Urriola called on environmentalists to "not be too hasty." And, according to the official, some environmentalists have said "the Government is irresponsible" to work in this area. However, Urriola said the government is not irresponsible "if we try to use the natural resources of the country in the best manner." (La Prensa)

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Bids Received To Build New "Governmental City" In Curundu

Infrastructure UpgradesThree companies are participating in the bidding process to win the contract for the design, the development of building plans, and the Environmental Impact Study for the construction of the "Governmental City" project - which aims to concentrate in one single complex various government institutions. The companies F. G. Guardia y Asociados, Proyecto Arnaiz and Omni Consult S. A., submitted their proposals for the construction of this set of buildings, which (when completed) according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance will represent a savings of more than $30 million dollars for the state. At the end of the public act, the lawyer Novenco Hinojoza, the Administrative Director of the MEF, who presided over the act, said that once they have read all of the bids it will take them two days to review the documents and then send them to the evaluation commission, which will proceed with the final award. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: This project is for the construction of a new "Governmental City" area, which will be located basically between the Albrook Mall and Bus Terminal on one side, on the other side of the Norther Corridor, with Curundu on the other side. That's the land that's been designated, but the specifics of the plan vary with each proposal. Note: I initially had this confused with another project to build an office building on the land where the US Embassy used to be, but that's a different project. Take a look at this link for some plans, drawings, and graphics.

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Turbidity in Lake Alajuela Continues To Decrease

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Minister for Canal Affairs Romulo Roux, said the levels of turbidity in Lake Alajuela continue to decline, and therefore the same is true for the water being produced by the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant, however the water still is not fit for human consumption. Roux said at this moment they are formulating an operational plan for the cleaning of some of the tubs at the plan that were fouled by the work of filtering. He added that the turbidity level of Lake Alajuela remains lower, but that could change. Right now there are eight locations in Panama City where water tanker trucks are distributing drinking water at the following locations; Municipio de San Miguelito, Centro Comercial Los Andes de San Miguelito, Centro Comercial Los Pueblos de Juan Díaz, in the sector of Morelos in Tocumen, at the Súper 99 in Tocumen, in San Joaquín, in Concepción Juan Díaz, one in the Community Board of Las Mañanitas and two mobile in Las Mañanitas. What's more the fire hydrant located near the Figali Convention Center, in Amador, is now open for people to obtain supplies of drinking water. Bottled water is being distributed in the Emergency Operations Center of Sinaproc that was acquired by the National Government to deliver for free to people who do not get water service to their homes. Delivery is made by the representatives of the district township of Panama and San Miguelito, affected by the lack of service. (La Critica)
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Water Pipe Break on Clayton

Infrastructure UpgradesWhile in the capital city water is scarce, on the former military base of Clayton it is being wasted. This, due to the rupture of a pipeline, a small fountain has formed, and the damage has not yet been repaired. El Siglo tried to contact the authorities of the Institute of National Water and Sewerage for the respective problem, but it was not possible to contact representatives of the institution. (El Siglo)

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Turbidity Levels Continue To Drop in Lake Alajuela

Infrastructure Upgrades The level of turbidity in the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant continues to improve, according to recent reports provided by the technical team of the inter-agency committee designated to address the shortages in production and distribution of water in the capital and San Miguelito. According to the Minister for Canal Affairs Romulo Roux, who chairs the Inter-agency Commission that seeks solutions to the lack of drinking water in the capital city, turbidity levels at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, in one of the plants reached 3.91 and the other was at 9.29 units. Roux said levels of turbidity may increase to the extent that it seems to increase when the production output of the plant is increased. The turbidity of the raw source water from Lake Alajuela remains at 94.9. Also, according to the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant achieved a production level of approximately 151 million gallons per day, with six pumps operational. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the turbidity of drinking water should not exceed five nephelometric units.

Regarding the operation of the distribution of water using water tanker trucks, the Minister reported that they have increased the number of trucks being used. According to an official report, a total of 60 water tankers have taken water to the residents of more than 40 communities located in the districts of Pedregal, Rio Abajo, San Francisco, Parque Lefevre, Bethania, Las Cumbres, December 24, Las Mañanitas, Pueblo Nuevo, Tocumen, Juan Diaz and several sectors of the district of San Miguelito. What's more, they have established eight fixed water distribution points located in Pedregal (2 Lilas, Narciso Garay School) in San Miguelito (at the Municipal headquarters and in Las Praderas de San Antonio), Las Mañanitas (at the soccer court), Los Pueblos (on the National Bank's side), and Juan Díaz (Don Bosco and Plaza Tocumen). The Minister for Canal Affairs called on communities to allow the passage of tankers that will distribute potable water, because water will be delivered to all.

Moreover, the Inter-agency Commission launched the operational distribution of bottled water at the Emergency Operations Center of the National System of Civil Protection (NSCP), located in Howard, where they distributed about 100 thousand bottles of water. Some of the communities to which bottled water was distributed were: Belisario Frías, Omar Torrijos, Betania, San Francisco, Victoriano Lorenzo, Arnulfo Arias, Pueblo Nuevo, 24 de Diciembre, Río Abajo, Parque Lefevre, Pedregal, Belisario Porras and Rufina Alfaro. (TVN Noticias)

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A New Water Authority Will Be Created

Infrastructure Upgrades Panama's president, Ricardo Martinelli, is contemplating the creation of a new Water Authority with the same strict administrative parameters as the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). The idea, he says, is to "finish the collapse" of the Institute of Aqueducts and National Sewage Systems (Idaan). Martinelli added the objective is to create two entities: one for the production of drinking water, and another for the sewage system. "We have to create a new entity that is removed from politics... as is the Panama Canal," added the President. The possibility of creating a new institution to replace the current Idaan, as a consequence of the crisis that has had the capital city without drinking water - drew comment from the Minister of the Panama Canal, Rómulo Roux. The minister added it is one of the alternatives that is being analyzed. With regards to the situation of the Chilibre Water Treatement Plant, Minister Roux said the plant is producing 151 million gallons of water daily, of a total maximum daily output of 180 million gallons of water per day. Meanwhile, yesterday the government started the distribution of bottled water purchased to ease the current shortages. The bottles were delivered to the representatives of each area to be distributed. (La Prensa)
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Water Tanker Trucks Getting Filled in La Chorrera

Infrastructure UpgradesFaced with the problem of a shortage of drinking water in Panama City, many water tanker trucks are getting filled up at the water treatment plant in La Chorrera, located in Trapichito. According to engineer Eleuterio Quintero, the regional director of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems for the Western part of the Province of Panama, they started doing this about two weeks ago, where the water is paid for in Panama City and then the trucks arrive at the water treatment plant.

It's Safe For Drinking - "This is treated water that has a turbidity 0.5 percent and is suitable for human consumption. At least 10 trucks arrive daily to be filled. Some make up to two or three trips, and they take at least 300,000 gallons per day," he explained. Quintero said this does not affect the residents of La Chorrera, because they are receiving water from the new water treatment plant in Mendoza, and the water treatment plant in La Chorrera is being used to supply the water tanker trucks coming from Panama City. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: It seems like the three water treatment plants taking their source water from Gatun Lake (Miraflores, Mendoza, La Chorrera) are not having the same problems with high levels of raw source water turbidity as the Chilibre water treatment plant, which takes its supply from Lake Alajuela. I guess that by the time the water gets further down stream the turbidity decreases? Who knows - water engineer, I ain't.

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Some Improvement in Water Quality From Chilibre Water Treatment Plant

Infrastructure UpgradesThe water is still not fit for human consumption. Apparently, very soon Panamanians will finally be receiving some good news with regards to the water crisis, because the turbidity has dropped to seven points. Manuel González Ruiz, the Director of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), explained that the turbidity in Lake Alajuela is 140 units, but the water leaving the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant contains 7 units. Ideally, as dictated by international standards, the water should have less than five units, but that will all depend on the weather. On the other hand, President Ricardo Martinelli, in a statement, said that in the affected areas residents will not be charged for the month of December or the days that the crisis continues in January. In addition, the Government bought 17,000 boxes of 2-liter water bottles from Costa Rica, to be distributed in the affected areas of the capital. In the midst of encouraging news, bottled water that used to cost $1.00 at the Tocumen International Airport, now sells for B/2.00.

DIARRHEA CASES INCREASE - The regional health director of San Miguelito, Algis Torres, said that in December 2009 there were 918 cases of diarrhea, while in December 2010 were 2,003 cases (or an increase of 118%). Of these, 855 are in persons over 5 years of age, while children under 5 years of age represented 1,148 cases of diarrhea, registering an increase in cases of minors, compared with 2009 when there were only 443. According to the doctor, the increase in these cases may be associated with water shortages in recent weeks, and he recommended precautionary measures.

RECOMMENDATIONS - Use proper containers to collect water. Do not use old paint buckets. Brush your teeth with boiled or bottled water. Strain and boil the water before using it for cooking or washing food. Wash your hands with alcohol gel. If you eat on the street, be careful, because you don't know what water they used to prepare the food. (Dia a Dia)

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Need Cheap Bottled Water? Aqua Viva Plant on Transistmica in Milla 8

Infrastructure Upgrades By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Posted today as a comment to another article about the drinking water crisis - "You want fresh bottled water? Aqua Viva on the Transistmica, next to the Jardin de Paz (Memorial Garden at Milla 8) is supplying purified water from its factory. A normal tank - the type that tops a water cooler - is filled for $4 and if you do not have a tank they sell non-returnable tanks for $10. Nice big tank . not sure of amount it holds - that could be used for something else or perhaps you could just keep refilling whilst this continues. It is orderly and they have a steady line of customers. Transaction is quick and they take the tank to your car."

Editor's Comment: These are typically 5 gallon tanks and once you have a few then you can just take them back for a refill. In order to get to their production facility - take the Northern Corridor, pay the toll where you can see the "dinosaur egg" and then go up the hill. Exit the Northern Corridor towards Las Cumbres, and look for the Aqua Viva plant on the left about 1.1 miles to the North of the Northern Corridor. You'll be able to spot the plant because of the line of cars out front - people who are looking to buy water.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Chaos In Panama City Over Lack Of Clean Drinking Water

Infrastructure UpgradesThe crisis over a lack of drinking water in Panama City has reached day 34 today. And, it's effecting the young and old, the rich and poor, equally. The decision to reduce the production at the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant down to 40% of capacity in order to clean out the sedimentation settling tanks put thousands of Panamanian families in check, who yesterday suffered the brunt of a crisis without precedent in history. Today, the state Institute of National Water and Sewerage is under scrutiny for its undeniable inefficiency, prompting the intervention of specialists from the Panama Canal Authority and the Fire Department in the search for the standardization of service.

Vice President Juan Carlos Varela announced yesterday the government has hired the services of additional water tanker trucks to meet demand in most areas with greater involvement in an operation coordinated by the Emergency Operations Center. Meanwhile, the evangelical leader Edwin Alvarez, in a special worship ceremony held at the Roberto Duran arena, asked the government to spend the $1.5 million dollars they had destined for Carnival celebrations this year on ways to find a solution to the water crisis.

The political opposition attacks 'laziness' of the Government and demerits the argument of the problems of water turbidity and sediment problems in Lake Alajuela. They wonder how, with the same problems, the Panama Canal Authority has been able to keep the water treatment plant at Miraflores running smoothly. (La Estrella)

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People Getting Desperate Over Water Crisis

Infrastructure UpgradesThe lack of clean drinking water in Panama City that has been a problem now for more than 34 days is starting to cause despair among the population, because efforts to obtain water is causing conflicts between users. Yesterday, residents of an exclusive residential neighborhood near the road leading to the Centennial Bridge almost came to blows when trying to get water from a tanker truck that was delivering water to this area. The situation was diffused. On the other hand, residents of Los Libertadores buildings closed one lane of Ricardo J. Alfaro (Tumba Muerto) for two hours in protest because they have gone for five days without water. After a while, an IDAAN water tanker truck that was passing down the road was stopped and held by the demonstrators who forced it to stop to give them water. On Friday, residents of Santa Maria also opted to close streets to demand the liquid.

Measures - Faced with this crisis, the government decided to shift the responsibility for the distribution of potable water through tankers to the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc). This was done to allow workers to concentrate on the operations of water treatment techniques in the water treatment plant in Chilibre by the authorities of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela, who made the announcements to the news media, said they are working to obtain additional tankers. For its part, Rodrigo Barragan, the Chief of Water Treatment Plants, said the ACP and the IDAAN and have joined forces to run cleanup operations in the sediment collectors and the expect to finish this process today. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: People are starting to get desperate. I've received email and questions from people who are asking if they should cancel their plans to visit Panama due to the water crisis. Right now there's no need because the government is making it a priority to supply water to hotels and hospitals, for example. As long as you stick to bottled water or other processed drinks, then you should be alright.

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Tumba Muerto "Looks Like The Surface Of The Moon"

Infrastructure UpgradesIt looks like the surface of the moon. This is the condition of Ricardo J. Alfaro or "Tumba Muerto", near the Tuira and Chucunaque buildings in Panama City, and the inhabitants of the area say its been like that for months. Drivers who use this route every day the worst part is that because of these holes the traffic during rush hour is worse as drivers slow down to keep from damaging their cars, and there have even been minor accidents when drivers swerve to avoid the holes and they lose control of their vehicles.

Mrs. Lesbia Ramirez is a resident of one of the buildings near the site, and she said that when standing at the bus stop one can see how the buses and heavy equipment trucks pass over the breaks and cracks in the pavement at high speed, which causes the cracks to get even worse, but she also fears that sooner or later someone who is waiting for a bus is going to be killed.

The Repairs Of Summer: This roadway is added to the many other roads that are in poor condition. The Ministry of Public Works (MOP) has initiated a project called "Operation Summer 2011" in which assessments are being made to repair the roadways that are in a bad state before the rains of winter return. With this project they will begin to repair the main streets were most of the cars and traffic pass, and then they will continue with the smaller side streets and neighborhoods of Panama City.

Dangerous - There are more than four large holes on this roadway, accompanied by the cracks that are growing larger. (Dia a Dia)

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Turbidity Levels Remain High in Lake Alajuela

Infrastructure UpgradesTurbidity levels in Lake Alajuela remain alarming. Yesterday it was reported that the lake (the principal source of raw water supply for the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant) had a level of 163 nephelometric units, well above its normal level of less than 5 units. Aerial views taken on Thursday showed that the lake still has a high level of turbidity. The situation has triggered several protests and demonstrations, with people closing roads to demand that the government resolve the water shortage problems.

El Siglo toured the water treatment plant, where Rodrigo Barragan, the Plant Coordinator, who explained that their work of filtering the sediment is advancing at a good pace. But the high level of turbidity in the raw source water complicates their work of production. The official stressed that the original design of the plant did not include allowing for the raw source water to contain turbidity levels as high as 700 nephelometric units recorded after the heavy rains last December. The plant can handle about 100 units, which is more than what the raw source water contains at this moment in time.

Another Cold Front In The Forecast: The situation is even more complicated after the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) forecast a cold front next week which could increase turbidity. These problems are forcing restrictions on businesses. Restaurants announced they would not provide water to their customers, and supermarkets have implemented measures to prevent customers from hoarding bottled water (rationing sales). Ivan Rios, the President of the Merchants Association and Grocery Distributors and Allied Workers of Panama (Acovipa), said that these measures are normal when a product is scarce.

The Routes Of The Water Tanker Trucks: The IDAAN reported that as of 7:00 am today they are distributing water in Betania, Hato Pintado, Tocumen, Chilibre, San Miguelito and Los Pueblos. Hospitals, hotels and the airport of Tocumen remain the priority. (El Siglo)

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Drinking Water Doesn't Contain Bacteria - Just Suspended Particles

Infrastructure UpgradesPanama's health and water officials conducted a bacteriological test to determine if the drinking water being supplied to the central area of the province of Panama was fit for human consumption. In a press release, the Ministry of Health determined that the water has no bacteria, but ti still does not recommend its consumption. In total, 56 samples were analyzed, taken from the distribution network, water produced by the both the Chilibre and Miraflores Water Treatment Plants. The tests determined there was no bacteria present in the water. However, there are still high levels of turbidity in the water, so therefore health officials do not recommend that the water should be used straight from the tap, and that first people should filter and boil the water before drinking. It was reported that the Ministry of Health will continue with the assessments and monitoring the water quality to determine whether it is safe or not. Idaan executives have repeatedly said they are still waiting for nature to take its course in order for the levels of turbidity in the source water in Lake Alajuela to be reduced. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Translation: "We're blasting the water with enough chlorine to kill all of the bacteria, but there is still solid particles suspended in the water, so you might want to filter that crap out first before you drink it. It won't hurt you, but you might not want to have to chew your drinking water."

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Lake Alajuela Down To 174 Nephelometric Units of Turbidity

Infrastructure Upgrades Turbidity levels in Lake Alajuela continue to fall, according to the Director of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems (Idaan), Manuel Ruiz. He said the current level is 174 nephelometric units (used to measure the degree of turbidity). However, ideally, that number should be less than five. According to the director of IDAAN, the trend has been that turbidity levels rise at dawn and then come back down during the course of the day. When speaking on the channel 2 TVN morning news program, González Ruiz said the situation today is very different from the 700 units recorded in the lake when the crisis began in December.

Supply - The official said the agency is receiving and taking all calls from users who report a lack of potable water. He added that these areas are being served by tanker trucks, but he also said they have a limited number of trucks available. González Ruiz said that at the higher lying points of the capital city, where there is no water service, they are using trucks to fill the water tanks located on the tops of buildings. In this regard, the official called on the administrations of those buildings to control the use of water. Moreover, the director of Idaan asked people to be patient and understanding with regards to the water crisis, and that they are working hard to solve it. (La Prensa)

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IDAAN Admits It Can't Solve Water Crisis - Without Divine Intervention

Infrastructure UpgradesThe solution to the water crisis is not in the hands of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), but rather appears to depend on divine intervention. "Only God can change this situation to our favor," said Rodrigo Barragan, the National Director of Water Treatment Plants of the entity. He said turbidity levels in Lake Alajuela are declining, but "we are in the hands of nature." He said that when Lake Alajuela experiences its natural levels of sedimentation and the amount of rainfall above the lake reduces, then the plant can take over.

He said the IDAAN has established as a priority the Chilibre Water Treatment Plant within the operating budget in order to provide more staff, electromechanical equipment, to improve it's appearance and repair, to be prepared in similar situations. He said it is likely they would request a special appropriation to address this situation, but he did not specify the amount.

Increased cases of diarrhea - Jorge Hassan, the Director of the Metropolitan Health Region, said that in December 2009 there were 135 cases of diarrhea, while in the same month of 2010, there were 275. He noted that there have been no reports of people hospitalized, but recommended that the water should be boiled until the IDAAN says the water is fit for human consumption. The community is awaiting the pronouncement of IDAAN, which announced a lack of water supply in several sectors. (Panama America)

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