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🏗️ Salanfe Dam

Keyword
2017 Sept
  • Date de Visite
    23.09.2017
  • Création
    1953
  • GPS
    46.14129 6.96722

The Salanfe dam


The Salanfe dam (barrage de Salanfe in french) is located in the commune of Evionnaz in the district of St-Maurice in Valais. It is a concrete gravity dam like the one of the Grande Dixence. It was built from 1947 to 1953 and forms the Salanfe Lake in a wonderful natural circus.

The Salanfe dam is straight and therefore of a gravity-type in contrast to an arch-type dam such as the one in Montsalvens.
The Salanfe dam of gravity-type The Salanfe dam of gravity-type and the Montsalvens arch-type dam

Access


Access to the Salanfe dam is not possible directly by car, you have to leave your car in the car park after the Van d’en Haut campsite, 500 metres from the end of the paved road.
The car park.
The car park to go to the Salanfe dam

Ascent to the dam


The ascent to the Salanfe dam is steep and takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes via a footpath or by the road that leads to the hostel next to the dam. The difference in elevation is nearly 450 meters.

The path under the Salanfe dam.
Le chemin sous le barrage de Salanfe.

The dam site


Arrived at the crown of the Salanfe dam, we are impressed by the magnificent view over the Salanfe natural circus. When looking at the lake, you can see the Luisin massif on the left, the Tour Sallière massif on the opposite, and the famous Dents du Midi on the right. It is the most beautiful view from all the dams visited by La Torpille. The 7km walk around the lake can be done in 1h45 minutes. You can also stop at the Auberge de Salanfe for a drink, enjoy the view or even sleep overnight.

From left to right, the Auberge de Salanfe, the arrival of the underground funicular linking the Miéville power plant to the dam and the Salanfe chapel.
From left to right, the Auberge de Salanfe, the arrival of the underground funicular linking the Miéville power plant to the dam and the Salanfe chapel.

180 degree view from the Salanfe dam and the Dents du Midi.
180 degree view from the Salanfe dam The Dents du Midi and the lake of Salanfe

Les Dents du Midi (in the background on the right) from Les Rochers de Naye. The Salanfe dam is just behind the Dents du Midi.
The Dents du midi in the background of the image from Les Rochers de Naye. The Salanfe dam is just behind the Dents du Midi

Water supplies to the dam


The watershed of about 32 km2 is relatively small compared to other dams in the Valais. The natural watershed is made up of the Cirque of Salanfe over an area of 18 km2. Water is collected from the Susanfe Valley in the west across the Tour Sallière in 3 places through a 4 km long supply tunnel through the mountain, capturing the waters of the Saufla. Two pumps are used to pump the water up to the supply tunnel.

View on the Tour Sallière (in the middle) from the top of the Salanfe dam.
View on the Tour Sallière (in the middle) from the top of the Salanfe dam.

The hydroelectric complex


The lake water is brought to the Miéville power plant in the Rhône valley with a 7.2 m3/s underground penstock over a distance of 4.6 km and after an important waterfall of 1472 m. The Miéville power plant has two Pelton turbines with a maximum capacity of 70MW and produces approximately 120 GW/h per year. Only the waterfalls between the Grande Dixence dam and the Bieudron plant (1880 m) and between the Fully dam and its power plant are more important in Switzerland. The water turbined by the Miéville plant is then discharged into the Rhône.

The Miéville plant in the commune of Vernayaz.
The Miéville plant which turbines the waters of the Salanfe dam in the commune of Vernayaz.

The concrete disease


The dam is affected by the “concrete disease” which causes the structure to swell. It is due to an alkali-granulat reaction unknown at the time of the construction in 1950. To simply explain this reaction, we can say that concrete consists of a mixture of sand, small stones, cement and water in very precise proportions that hardens for a certain time after being mixed. In the agglomerate thus formed, small spaces are made up of water and air with a high pH which will interact with the silica that constitutes the sand and the small stones of the concrete by increasing the pressure thus causing a swelling and then a crack in the structure. This alters the mechanical properties of the concrete.
The Salanfe dam was particularly affected by this problem, so that maintenance works had to be carried out in 2013. These are only used to delay the spread of irreversible swelling in concrete that has been cut vertically over 1 cm wide with a saw. The incisions are gradually closing.

Vertical incision marks to combat the alkali-aggregate reaction.
Vertical cut marks made to combat the alkali-aggregate reaction at the Salanfe dam

The Salanfe river


In addition to the splendid natural circus and the dam, the Salanfe river shaped the Dailley gorges below Van d’en Bas and the Pissevache waterfall in the Rhône valley.

The Dailley gorges and the Pissevache.
The Dailley gorges shaped by the Salange River which also forms the Salanfe dam above The PisseVache formed by the Salange River which also forms the Salanfe dam above

See all the technical details of the dam.

Historical maps


1953: No dam



1954: Salanfe Dam


Video


Related attractions


Attractions in the canton of Valais
Attractions in the Saint-Maurice region

Modern buildings in French-Speaking Switzerland
Dams in French-Speaking Switzerland

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