Lake Alajuela

Coordinates: 9°14′04″N 79°34′32″W / 9.23444°N 79.57556°W / 9.23444; -79.57556
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Lake Alajuela
Natural-color satellite image of Lake Alajuela
Lake Alajuela is located in Panamá Province
Lake Alajuela
Lake Alajuela
LocationPanamá Province, Panama
Coordinates9°14′04″N 79°34′32″W / 9.23444°N 79.57556°W / 9.23444; -79.57556
Lake typeReservoir
Primary outflowsPanama Canal
Catchment area1,026 km2 (396 sq mi)
Basin countriesPanama
Surface area50.2 km2 (19.4 sq mi)
Water volumeca. 600 hm3 (2.1×1010 cu ft)[1])
Surface elevation76.8 m (252 ft)
Lake Alajuela is located in Panama
Lake Alajuela
Lake Alajuela

Lake Alajuela (Spanish: Lago Alajuela) is an artificial lake in the Chagres River basin. The lake is bounded by the Madden Dam and linked to the Panama Canal. Lake Alajuela serves as a reservoir for the canal, which lies to the lake's southwest.[2] It was created in 1935 by damming up the Madden River. The Chagres, Pequení, Boquerón, Salamanca, La Puente, Indio, Piedras, San Cristóbal and Escandaloso rivers flow into the lake. The rivers of Lake Alajuela contribute 45 percent of the total water for the canal.[3] As of 1987, it provided all of the drinking water for Panama City.[4]

The reservoir was formerly known as Madden Lake when the Canal Zone was under U.S. administration and was renamed after control of the canal was handed over to Panama.[2]

In early December 2010, Lake Alajuela reached its highest recorded water level, prompting authorities to close the Panama Canal for 17 hours.[2] The canal reopened on December 9.

In late August 2023, the lake was reported to be at its lowest levels in recent years, limiting Panama Canal traffic.[5]


  1. ^ Hulman, Lewis G. (1972). "System Relationships a Panama Canal Water Supply Study". Water Resources Research. 8 (3): 774–778. doi:10.1029/WR008i003p00769. hdl:2027/uc1.31210024723247.
  2. ^ a b c "Lago Alajuela, Panama". NASA. 21 December 2010.
  3. ^ Fundación Parque Nacional Chagres. "Parque Nacional Chagres: Hidrología". Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  4. ^ Moreno, Stanley Heckadon (1993). "Impact of Development on the Panama Canal Environment". Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs. 35 (3): 129–149. doi:10.2307/165971. ISSN 0022-1937. JSTOR 165971.
  5. ^ Sheridan, Mary Beth (2023-08-24). "Traffic jam at Panama Canal as water level plummets". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-08-25.