lunes, 28 de abril de 2014
20140428-Relleu-IWA-Simposio Regional del Aguas-22 y 23 de marzo del 2014 en Patras (Grecia).
Los pasados del 22 y 23 de Marzo tuvo lugar en Patras (Grecia) el “Simposio Regional del Agua, las aguas residuales y el medio ambiente, tradición y la cultura”.
El Simposio estaba organizado por la IWA International Water Association.
En él se presentó durante la Sesión 9 el documento “Water Heritage in Relleu (Marina Baixa) arid región in Alicante, Spain”. Los autores son los Dres. Miquel Salgot (Instituto del Agua, UB) y Manuel Soler (Catedrático, Casa del Escrivá).
En el (ver texto adjunto) se presenta parte del patrimonio hidráulico, material o inmaterial, existente en Relleu. A destacar dos aspectos. Uno la meticulosa gestión del agua que se realizaba y se realiza. Otro aspecto la presa del embalse de Relleu, verdadera joya de la ingeniería civil.
Respecto a la gestión del agua el documento original, elaborado por Manolo Soler, se titulaba “Until de last drop” indicativo de la aridez de estas tierras de Relleu y del exhaustivo aprovechamiento del agua, hasta la última gota.
El comité científico del Simposio aconsejo modificar el titulo con vistas hacerlo más académico.
Respecto a la presa recordar que desde la Casa del Escrivá de Relleu, se organizó una vista a la presa de Relleu el pasado sábado 15 de Marzo, esto con el objeto de movilizar voluntades para que este monumento sea declarado BIC, bien de interés cultural. A la visita acudieron académicos de la Universidad de Alicante y técnicos de la Diputación de Alicante, así como miembros de la asociación cultural de Relleu “Benesit”, Pablo Gimenez,
estudioso de la presa de Relleu y Manolo Soler, estudioso del patrimonio hidráulico. Se ha de indicar que uno de los asistentes fue el Catedrático Antonio Gil Olcina que días después en la presentación del primer volumen del inventario o censo provincial del patrimonio hídrico (ver Diario Información del 28 de Marzo), bajo el patronazgo de la Diputación de Alicante y el apoyo de la Generalitat, dejo claro el valor de la presa de Relleu, la que merece no solo ser catalogada como BIC, al igual que sus hermanas la de Tibi y la de Elche, sino ser propuestas a la UNESCO como Patrimonio de la Humanidad.
Water heritage in Relleu (Marina Baixa) arid region, Alicante, Spain
Salgot de Marçay, Miquel 1, Soler Manuel, Manuel A. 2
1.- Soil Science Unit, University of Barcelona, Faculty of Pharmacy. Joan XXIII, s/n. 08028 Barcelona, Spain. firstname.lastname@example.org
2.- Chronicler of Relleu. Casa de l’Escrivà. Pça. Senyoria nº 2. 03578 Relleu (Alicante). Spain. email@example.com
Water heritage is dense and developed for centuries in Relleu, a small village in an arid area not far away from the Mediterranean Sea in the southwest of Spain. There, men have been working intensively along centuries to manage the scarce and irregular water resources. Weirs, foggaras or qanats, terraces for cultivation, ponds, aqueducts, water mills, dams, cisterns… can be found in the area as well as remains of human settlements in the middle of a wild landscape which changed along the centuries. A technological evaluation of hydropower and wise irrigation facilities were barely needed in order to recover old, forgotten knowledge of water conservation. In general, goof water heritage can be currently found in relation with the poor economic agriculture in this arid country.
Keywords: water heritage, river basin, water culture, material and immaterial heritage
It was a time, when we were children, we used to play under the rare rain and without any protection building small-scale dams, channels and irrigation systems, using mud. Children were only allowed to use water from the runoff appearing the rare days of rainfall. This happened in Relleu, a village in an arid country southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. Now, during the village festivities, “the day of the bath” is celebrated: everybody in the street could receive or is able to launch a pitcher of water. It is “the happiness and the luxury of playing with water for one day a year”.
Those human settlements where water has been precious for centuries, keep drops of the amazing material and immaterial water heritage from an arid country where unknown human beings - Iberians, Punics, Romans, Goths and Vandals (Theodomirus kingdom), Muslims (Alxarquia), Aragonese and Catalans (Valencia kingdom) Castilians (Alfarache revolution), Spaniards (Valencia country) and tourists from worldwide - came and still come to enjoy living.
Relleu is located in the Marina Baixa (Alicante, Spain) region, near the seaside of the Mediterranean. Relleu is located in the upper part of the catchment of river Amadorio, not far from the Aitana Mountains (Mother mountains), just where the arid climate begins and the annual rainfall drops from 600 mm to 300 mm in a few km. Rainfall arrives approximately in October rushing in fewer ours (local intensity achieves from 50 to 130 mm/h) as it is said that in this country the rain do not know how to rain. Evapotranspiration is around 700 mm/yr bigger than rainfall. Nevertheless, energy coming from the sun allows growing magnificent crops if people are capable to handle the scarce water resources. A poetess (Mrs. Khalvari) wrote in 2010:
“You wouldn’t starve here,
living in the wild.
But you might die
of thirst, so dry is everything”
The water culture in Relleu belongs mainly to the Muslim ages and is in a strong relation with the venerable Tribunal de las Aguas (Water Court) which is still giving oral sentences as used to give for centuries, from his quarters at the Apostles’ door of Valencia cathedral.
UNTIL THE LAST DROP
For centuries this has been and is the aim of our water culture: to manage the scarce water till the last drop (Barciela et al., 2013). There are two representations of “bedecanters” (bed for jugs, pitchers) shown in Figure 1. There water collected from spring or from cisterns for personal purposes was hold inside porous ceramic jugs over a table (the bedecanter). Humidity from air condensate over the ceramics of the jug and fall over the stone table, then drained through a hole in the stone and drop by drop was collected in another jug or irrigated a plant in a pot, usually Venus hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris).
Figure 1. (a) Actual reproduction of a bedecanter and (b) Real bedecanter (old picture).
Wise old men from the village, as tío (uncle) Miquel, exerted traditionally a control on the irrigation of orchards, green growers’ parcels. Even if water was flowing from in excess from the reservoir, they ordered to stop irrigating because flow rate was not enough to supply water at a convenient speed. If water flooding soil did not have the adequate flow, then was lost at the beginning of the plot by an excessive infiltration. Studies had shown that, for the size of the usual plots in the area the appropriate flow rate must be 30 L/s or more, as tío Miquel said, and then, water consumptions are efficient enough. Those practices were absolutely necessary, a question of survival, in arid areas (Figure 2b).
Water at home was used and reused several times, in function of its cleanliness, as industrial processes use and recycle water today. First water was used to wash dishes or food in the kitchen, afterwards the same water could be used for other purposes (e.g. cleaning soils) and at the end to moisten the dust in the patio or to irrigate a tree.
WATER COLLECTING AND ADMINISTRATION
Surface water collection from the river was performed by using little dams or weirs made of mud (clay or lime) and stone or from natural pools in gullies (Figure 2a). Afterwards, water was conducted by little channels for watering domestic animals, then that water was used for washing purposes (laundry) and at the end was collected in ponds (balsas). The original ponds were an excavation covered by a layer of clay to make it impervious.
Figures 2. (a) A natural pond in the river/gully and (b) The arid landscape near Relleu
Water from the river, in the ponds and afterwards used to irrigate the fields was administered and distributed according to a wise regulation and the councils of venerable elders decided what must be done in case of doubts and disputes. At the beginning of the agricultural period (October or September) and in April, the council, considering the flow rate in the river and the recorded rainfall, decided every year on the type of crops allowed and the area to be irrigated and additionally, established a price for the water according to the budget of the irrigation community. Water was supplied in strict turns. Knowledge on astronomy, on climate and a lot of experience were used by the elder.
Far away from the streams and rivers, channels or ditches (aigüeres, Figure 3a) dug in by the skirts of the mountains, intercept the water runoff and transport it to hyper-yearly reservoirs (Figure 3b) and ponds. The water was sent from those ditches to different reservoirs and the distribution was made using stones (partidors, Figure 3c).
Figure 3. (a) Ditches, (b) A reservoir with backstay (counterfort), and (c) A partitioner stone at the end of a ditch
The same was done with water coming from springs, and terraces (“bancals”, Figure 4a) which cover the landscape to catch water for maintaining during long time the soil humidity or avoid runoff and water rushing (Figure 4b).
Figures 4 (a) Ditches and (b) Reservoir with backstay (counterfort)
For personal consumptions water was collected in underground reservoirs or cisterns, “aljubs”. After a rain event, water runs (runoff) for a while over the soil, cleaning it at the beginning of the episode. By the time, runoff becomes less murky and then is derived to the cistern or “aljub”. Water, before entering the “aljub”, passes two sedimentation basins and a plant filter. Water in the cistern received sometimes a dose of quicklime which remained there for approximately two weeks before being used for drinking purposes. During those two weeks fine silt settled, and pathogens died by the combined action of high pH and heat (disinfection) when quicklime passed to slaked lime. Sometimes a vertebrate, usually an eel, was living in the cistern, acting as an instrument to control potability.
Groundwater was collected by using mines, galleries (Figure 5a) and wells constructed along the valleys and in places where shallow alluvial geological structures promised water. Sometimes a spring was the result of a gallery. Water scarcity conducted to dig galleries under the riverbed, in the underlying material and even to transport water from a catchment to another (Figure 6a). Even in the XIX century a company was created to look for water excavating a mine (Figure 6c). In Relleu there are still foggaras or qanats (Figure 5b) and Ferris wheels (Figure 6b).
Figures 5. (a) Ventilation well of a gallery, and (b) Water in a Foncar’s qanat or foggara maintenance hole
Figures 6. (a) “Modern” Ferris wheel, (b) A tunnel to transfer water to other catchment, and (c) A mine company share
THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE MILLS
In the upper part of the river Amadorio there are ancient water mills, several irrigation networks and the remains of a little dam, “el Pantanet” (the small dam), build to collect drainage from the irrigation system, and there is the jewel of the crown, an old dam, an arc dam, nearly a vault dam, built on ashlar stones, Relleu dam: “el Pantano de Relleu” (Soler, M.A., 1996 and Benesit, 2002)
About the origin and structure of the mills it is to say that water was derived from the river and went to the mill by a little channel. Water arrived to the “balsa” or water reservoir/pond of the mill. The “balsa” was connected with the tower or chimney, named “pou” or “cup” (well). At the basis of the tower it is a cave (the “cacao”), where the exit of water from the tower (the segitia or sagetia) is found. The exit is controlled by a wooden vane (the “morrera”) which, when open, forms a jet that impacts in the blades of the turbine. The turbine has an axis on wood or iron (“arbre” (tree) if made on wood or “palaferro” if made on iron). The shape of the tower is like a ziggurat of three or four levels. The tower wall is made of stones. The thickness of the wall is larger in the base and smaller in the top. Thickness is the appropriate to support the strength generated by the hydrostatic water pressure. The tower is approximately 11 m high.
Turbines (wheels) are open and in some way seem a Francis’ one but works as a Pelton turbine. At the beginning, turbines were made of pine green wood. The resin of pine waterproofs wood and then the turbine became nearly eternal. Turbines on wood (Figure 7a) were substituted by iron ones (Figure 7b) because the energetic efficiency of the iron turbines was higher than the one from turbines made on wood.
When calculating the hydraulics and energy parameters of the mill, the data found are: elevation capacity 11 m, flow rate 25 L/s, maximum section of the jet 0.1 x 0.05 m2, speed of the turbine 90 r.p.m., radius of the turbine 0.7 m, and deflection angle of the blades 120o. Water speed of the jet was 10.3 m/s, peripheral speed 3.3 m/s (very close to the optimum 1/3 of 10.3 m/s), force in the blade 25 kg (245 N), torch 8,75 mkg (85,75 Nm) and power 82.46 mkg/s (1,1 H.P.).
The mill was offering a maximum production capacity, depending of hydrology and axis system, of around 250,000 kg of grain (cereals, wheat, barley, and corn) for each mill and year.
Figures 7 (a) Artisan Vicente El Sacristà with blades in wood, and (b). Professor Albogaste sitting in an iron turbine (La Tosca)
The description of non-hydraulic machinery as filters, mill stone is not presented. When the non-consumptive use of water of a single mill finished, after losing head, then water was caught for feeding a new mill; so mills were constructed one after each other along the river and were even using water from the irrigation system because, very often, all water flowing on the river was extracted by the irrigation system and returned there. Little by little water availability resources decreased along the centuries and it became necessary to supply additional power with engines and electricity.
The first mill upwards is located at the beginning of river Amadorio, just after the junction of two branches, river Garrigós and river Escuders. The name of this mill is Palanquetes or Rabós (Figure 8a). There was registered the first dead caused by a labor accident. The owner, Rabós, went inside the “cacau” or gallery where the hydraulic turbine was placed. At that moment there was not water jet because the orifice was clogged by debris. He tried to unclog the orifice with a stick and water started to rush and pushed the turbine to run. The turbine wound Rabós seriously and he died after few hours.
Figures 8. (a) The tower of Rabos’ mill (Palanquetes), and (b) The tower of Old mill (Moli Vell)
Going down the river the water intake for the Tosca’s mills and for the irrigation network is found. Water used to flow in a channel to a point where there the Tosca spring is located. Both waters, from the channel and from the river, supplied energy to the two Tosca’s mills (Figure 9a). Because water from the Tosca spring is too carbonated, carbonate precipitates are forming the well-known Tosca’s stone. A beautiful Tosca’s stone’ can be seen in place. At the beginning of 20th century there was an unsuccessful project to use both water sources to generate electricity (Figure 9b).
Figures 9 (a) La Tosca and the upper mill, (b) La Tosca power station project and (c) Llixandre’s mill, the “bassa” (pond)
Not far from the Tosca the remnants of an Iberian village can be found. Also not far away, in the gorge of the Amadorio, the remnants of a Roman garrison tower, at the side of the ancient track connecting villages, are found.
Water goes further on; flowing by the system, river and channel, and arrives to the Old Mill (Molí Vell, Figure 8b) more than 400 years old. There are documents indicating that that the first Molí Vell paid taxes to the landlord in the Middle Ages. There is another history about the Molí Vell. A daughter killed his father making the hydraulic turbine start while dad was repairing the machinery. This was the revenge for an incestuous behavior.
Following the water track the Llixandre’s mill (Llixandre, Iskandar, Xicandar, Alexander; Figure 9c) appears. After it, arriving to Relleu, the upper mill (Figure 10b) and the downwards mill are found. There the drinking trough (Figure 10a), the public laundry (Figure 10c) and an irrigation basin can be seen. During the way, water has been irrigating the orchards (“hortes”) and will continue irrigating till the last drop.
Figures 10 (a) Drinking trough, (b) The “cacau” or cave in the upper mill (Xorro), and (c) The public laundry
Ancient works to control the scarce water in the area produced other material heritage as the Aljazeera, the “alcavo” (tunnel), aqueducts (Arca, Figures 11a and 11b) and the Arca drainage system in the Margelets (marjals or “marsh”) and at the end of the irrigation system the remnants of a little dam, the Pantanet (Figure 11c), nearly destroyed after a strong rainfall event and the subsequent high flow episode (Benesit, 2002).
Figures 11 (a) The Arc (aqueduct Middle Age aqueduct), (b) The Arca (aqueduct), and (c) The remnants of the Pantanet (little dam)
THE MASTER PIECE, THE DAM OF RELLEU.
River Amadorio changed its way from the “Salts” (the falls) were possibly existed a waterfall, for a new pathway to go straight to the sea. The river has been digging the named dam gorge. The entry of the gorge is a very good place to build a dam. La Vilajoiosa (the Happy Village) at the end of the Amadorio River and just by the seaside, needed water and obtained a permission to build a dam there. Relleu villagers were angry because malaria and other diseases were at that time related with stagnant water and the profits of this water would be for la Vilajoiosa and not for Relleu. King Felipe (Philip) III granted a permission to Cristobal Antonelli to project a new dam where previously existed a little one. As the traditions say, Saint Marta statue dropped tears which helped to obtain the approval for building the dam in 1653 governing Felipe IV.
Relleu’s dam (Figures 12) is the first one which was built as and arc, nearly a vault. Its main data are: length in the top 40 m, length in the base 2 m, height 28 m, thickness from the base to the bottom 10 m. The Relleu dam was the most slender for years till 1830 when Zola dam was built in Italy (Fontana et al., 2012).
Figures 12. (a) The gorge dam from the top of the wall, (b) The wall and tower from the vessel, and (c) Water flowing over the wall
Figures 13. Up: (a). Section of the wall and (b) Pedestrian entry (from Pablo Gimenez Font, Geography School, University of Alacant) and Down: (a) From the gorge, up is the pedestrian door and down the water outfall door and (b) The vane system
It is interesting to highlight that Relleu’s dam has a very little secondary dam located in a tributary river. The secondary dam passes water to the big dam through a channel dug in the stone.
THE LOCAL WATER LAW
To manage water in Relleu, oral traditional rules are used. The origin of the rules is lost in the time; Iberian? Punic? Roman? Muslim? In the year 1957 the rules were written, printed, published and approved by the watershed basin authority (Confederación Hidrográfica del Júcar).
The maintenance, collection and distribution of water, water uses allowed, sanctions, how to establish water price, and more important, how to define yearly the expected water availability, the surface to be irrigated and crops and type of cultivation allowed are described in the approved text. Forecast is done by the elected wise men of the community. Since it is annoying for farmers to lose their work and the expected crop due to lack of water in the middle of the agricultural campaign, the role of the elder is paramount for the wellness of the country and this is why the wise man try to manage irrigation in a conservative way.
A very hard time has arrived because the administration is wishing to change the irrigation system of channels by pipes that will broke the traditional rules in a time when water is more and more scarce and no money is available for the additional investments needed.
Similar regulations exist for other little irrigation facilities existing in the Amadorio River; Solted River, Teuladi and Xauxets. Several litigations have been documented for Palanquetes and Valverde wells. Several miracles related to water, prayers, special processions… can be found in old books and paintings in the churches of the area.
Similar water-related infrastructures can be found all over the Mediterranean due to the heritage of the diverse civilizations that occupied the shores of the basin, traditionally an area of cultural exchange. Water related features are part of the Mediterranean landscape and must be carefully studied and maintained. Relleu is wishing to be one more of the villages wishing to preserve the water-related material and immaterial heritage which will help to make a better use of water resources at present times.
A miracle of Mother of God, the Muslim’s Lady of the Rain, will be necessary to solve the problems related with scarce water in arid countries, to help changing the irrigation system and, finally, to safeguard the precious water heritage existing in Relleu. All of you are invited to visit this water heritage.
Barciela, C.; López, M.I.; Melgarejo, J. (2013) Los bienes culturales y su aportación al desarrollo sostenible (Cultural heritage and its contribution to sustainable development). Publicaciones de la Universidad de Alicante, Alicante, Spain.
Fontana, G.I.; Melgrejo, J.; Zardoya, M.V. (2012) Patrimonio hidráulico, industrial arquitectónico y urbano en el ámbito hispano-cubano. Colección Historia, Economía, Territorio.
Soler, M.A. (1996). Hidráulica nostálgica: los molinos hidráulicos. Teknos, 20: 16-22
20140428-Relleu-IWA-Simposio Regional del Aguas-22 y 23 de marzo del 2014 en Patras (Grecia).