Thursday, October 06, 2005


Spanish village reappears as reservoir is drained


The Guardian
By Giles Tremlett
October 6, 2005

The Spanish village of Sant Romá, hidden beneath the waters of the Sau reservoir for the past 40 years, began to emerge yesterday as the reservoir was drained.

The square belltower on the village church appeared several days ago as water levels were allowed to drop so that the local water authority could clean it. Then the body of the church appeared, and the washed-out stone niches in the graveyard.

Yesterday, as the gates on the dam that blocked the flow of the River Ter in 1963 were opened fully, the rest of Sant Romá began to appear.

A Romanesque bridge and the farmhouses of those who once lived here will be the next features to appear from under the water as it drains away over the next two to three weeks.

The reappearance of a place that has lain underwater for almost half a century has created an unprecedented rush of tourists to the reservoir in north-east Spain. Last weekend, with water levels already dramatically lower than normal, thousands of people turned up in their cars to glimpse what was emerging.

Now a guard has been put on the village. "I am worried that there will be accidents," said Jaume Orra, mayor of the nearby village of Vilafranca de Sau.

Sant Romá was one of several Spanish villages to disappear under the waters of reservoirs in the 1950s and 1960s as General Franco's regime flooded valleys to hold irrigation water and run hydroelectric power stations.

The local water authority decided to drain the reservoir to clean it of unwanted fish. Two species of fish, the silur (a catfish) and Alburnus alburnus (bleak), are destroying its internal ecosystem and leading to fears that algae will spread and make the water unusable.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?