el Pantano de Relleu, situado en el término municipal de RELLEU-Marina Baixa-País Valencià.
Se trata de una auténtica joya de la ingeniería hidráulica, construido a finales del siglo XVI y principios del siglo XVII. www.relleupantano.blogspot.com
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The hydraulic mills in
the upper Amadorio.Relleu (Marina Baixa) Alicante, Spain
Soler Manuel, Manuel A.
FormerChronicler of Relleu. Casa de l’Escrivà. Pça.
Senyoria nº 2. 03578 Relleu
(Alicante). Spain. firstname.lastname@example.org
is dense and has been developed for centuries in Relleu, in a very arid area 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. There was upona time without roads and cars, only narrow tracks,
men and horses to do the works and services. Theyhad a technological knowledge on hydropower enougth
to build millswhichpermit emprouve of having milled grain to eat
with a little les fatigue. The mills were build with this knouledge and a lot
of work to build it without machinery, only having stones, ciment, wood and a
litthe iron and the more difficult, with the permission of the king or the
marquis or the earal and paying hith taxis.
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”
Figure 1. Basic
types of watermills: (a) powered by a vertical-waterwheel and (b) equipped by a
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.
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 1a)
were substituted by iron ones (Figure 2b) because the energetic efficiency of
the iron turbines was higher than the one from turbines made on wood.
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
Figures 1 (a)
Artisan Vicente El Sacristà with blades in wood, and (b). An iron turbine (La
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
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 2. (a)
The tower of Rabos’ mill (Palanquetes), and (b) The tower of Old mill (Moli
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 3 (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.
further on; flowing by the system, river and channel, and arrives to the Old
Mill (Molí Vell, Figure 2b) 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.
water track the Llixandre’s mill (Llixandre, Iskandar, Xicandar, Alexander;
Figure 3c) 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 4 (a)
Moli de Dalt or Upper, (b) The “cacau” or cave in the upper mill (Xorro), and
(c) The stone weels
Fig. A Cambel
engine to warrant the services os the Tosca Mill.
AURORA ass. Relleu. The hydraulic mills in the upper Amadorio.October 2016