Reservoirs and Dams


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Walking through the southern trails of the lands Entre LOusã e Zêzere, we can trace a tour of reservoirs and dams whose water – in stronger winter days – prevails above all the other elements.

Starting our tour at Foz de Alge, we’ll see these waters ending their course in River Zêzere, enjoying their bright and green borders and the ruins of the ancient Iron Fabrics which, in dryer days are above the river’s level. For a longer weekend, the Camping Park provides excellent conditions.

Continuing from Figueiró dos Vinhos towards the village of Bairradas, still part of this municipality, we’ll find the Dam of Bouçã, a pleasant spot for a picnic and, in Barca do Bispo, for fishing the delicious freshwater fishes, such as achigã, common carp and barb.

Walking through the sinuous trail until Pedrogão Grande, we find the Dam of Cabril.
Due to its dimension, it requires a longer stay and it also enables to enjoy other virtues. Within its waters we have a floating swimming-pool which, besides a bath freshness, allows us to briefly meet with the inhabitant fishes. For the fishing lovers, the adequate spots are countless, and we can also practise nautical sports.
The camping park and the restaurant – right next to it – provide conditions for a longer stay.

The borders’ trails take us through the forest towards the ‘island’ – a magical place where we can hear the river’s sound, with a rhythm that seems like a lullaby song.

Other trails take us also to the Ponte Filipina, to the chapels of Senhora dos Milagres or, for the braver ones, to the shrine of Nossa Senhora da Confiança. Our will to discover will perhaps show us other places. In any of them, the landscape is amazing. The Dam itself, a huge concrete construction, appeals to our curiosity and with a little bit of luck we can watch a water discharge, witnessing the strength and energy of the river.

Further at north, in the municipality of Pampilhosa da Serra, the waters of River Unhais find quite an obstacle to their course: the Dam of Santa Luzia. Regarding the landscape, it’s a rather pleasant place and the Reservoir invites to the practise of nautical sports, or to a refreshing bath in the floating swimming-pool, next to Casal da Lapa.

Still at north of this municipality, runs another river - River Ceira – also detained by the Dam of Alto Ceira which, after being hold by concrete, follows its course digging deep and harsh scarps.

Tracing the Dams route is to walk through all territory, in a tour full of emotions.


Sources: Photos – Web Page of the municipality of Figueiró dos Vinhos at www.cm-figueirodosvinhos.pt/;
AS/Dueceira and Web Page of Pampilhosa em Imagens at
www.pampilhosaemimagens.com
Text: Web Page “Pampilhosa da Serra – Século XXI - os Desafios da Água” at www.desafiosdaagua.com.sapo.pt and
“Entre a Serra e o Rio… Os trilhos ELOZ” – Dueceira, 2000.

Technical Specifications

Dam of Bouçã

The reservoir of Bouçã is located in River Zêzere, between the reservoirs of Cabril, upstream, and Castelo de Bode, downstream. It has a surface area of 500ha with a medium depth of 20 meters.

It’s a reservoir mainly meant for the production of electricity. However, it’s starting to be requested for several sports activities, such as fishing, canoeing, pedestrian tours, Mountain Biking and Off-Roading.

There will be built soon some picnic parks that provide the contact with nature, quietness and leisure time.

Dam of Cabril

The reservoir of the Dam of Cabril is the largest water container of the municipalities of Pampilhosa da Serra and Pedrógão Grande.

Built in 1954, this Dam has a vault shape with 136 meters high and a reservoir with 55 Km long. In its 2023 ha of borders, grow pine trees and others, whose main feature is the vegetation homogeny.

This reservoir is made of two stems that correspond to River Unhais and River Zêzere, besides some smaller streams.

Concerning its purpose, it’s mainly meant for domestic supply, electricity production and leisure.

Dam of Santa Luzia

The Dam of Santa Luzia is typically a mountain dam. With 76 meters high and a crown of 178, it’s the perfect dam in a zone with such levels’ discrepancy.

According to EDP (Portugal’s electricity operator) in its 'História da Electricidade', the Dam of Santa Luzia built in 1942, was, at the time, a true general rehearsal for the upcoming national electricity plan. The first study on a small model of dam made in Portugal was based also in the Dam of Santa Luzia.

Built between two rocks with cyclopean dimensions, it’s sustained by River Unhais and by River Ceira, through the tunnel of Malhada do Rei.

Dam of Alto Ceira

Perhaps the most unknown Dam of the lands Entre LOusã e Zêzere, yet no less important in terms of environment. Surrounded by enormous trees, we can only enjoy its rare beauty if we are far from it. It was, until the middle 90ies of the 20th century, one of the purest waters reservoirs of Portugal. Upstream, all the rivulets are pollution free and not even the villages that surround them cause any kind of damage.

The Dam of Alto Ceira has a vault shaped dike with 36 m high. The drainage basin has 38 Km2 and the reservoir receives water from the Dam of Castanheira (Arganil), driven through 3257 m of tunnel. As for the Reservoir of Ceira it goes from a different tunnel with 6945 m long, which allows the transfer of water to the reservoir of Santa Luzia, in River Unhais. Up from that point, the water is redirected to the mini-station of Esteiro, where the water is released again in River Zêzere which, in its turn, drives it to the Dam of Cabril.

River Zêzere

River Zêzere is a typical Portuguese river. Its spring is in the Mountain of Estrela, at 1900 meters of altitude next to Cântaro Magro, ending at the west of Constância, after about 200 kms. It’s an affluent of the right-side of River Tejo and, after River Mondego, the longest river born in Portugal.

Its main tributaries according to the water volume in the right-side are: River Alge, River Cabril, River Unhais, River Nabão, River Paul and River Pêra.
At the left-side we find the following rivers: River Bogas, River Caria, River Isna, River Meimoa, River Sertã and River Teixeira.
From its drainage basin with 5043 Km2, 1056 Km2 belong to River Nabão. The great discrepancy of levels, together with the water volume (sometimes higher than 10.000 m 3/s.), represent a truly hydroelectric richness, seized for four dams (Bouçã, Cabril, Castelo de Bode and Constância), which produce 700 millions of kilowatts/hour per year.

River Ceira

River Ceira is an affluent of River Mondego which has its source in a region called Alto Ceira, at north of the municipality of Pampilhosa da Serra and Arganil, next to the village of Malhada Chã.

In this region, River Ceira was, up until a few years ago, a pollution free place, where we could find species like Trout, Bordalo and True Eels, and the clear waters were synonym of pureness.

Further at south in ‘Poço da Cesta’, at the border between Arganil and Pampilhosa da Serra, Ceira shows its beauty with preservation levels that are no longer common in Portugal.

Although there are still some trouts here, the last few years have been causing important damages due to the fact that the Dam of Alto Ceira controls the water of the river. The reason of this changing is thus based in the dam, as it is attached to the hydroelectric station of the Dam of Stª. Luzia, located in River Unhais, where the water is conducted to through tunnels, and therefore the upstream river suffers changing.


Source: Web Page “Pampilhosa da Serra – Século XXI - os Desafios da Água” at desafiosdaagua.com.sapo.pt