Beaver dams almost caused reservoir to overflow

Destroyed beaver dams blocked the drainage of a reservoir lake near Csíkszereda (Miercurea-Ciuc). The otherwise empty Suta Lake filled up to a level higher than optimal, reaching about 70 percent of the total capacity of the reservoir, the Székelyhon news portal reported. Given fears that the water could overflow, teams from Romania’s Water Management System intervened a few days ago to remove the blockage and drain the reservoir to the Fitód stream, a tributary of the Olt River.

The beaver dams were washed away by the recent rainfall, leading the branches and reeds they were made of to clog the drainage system of the lake and thus causing the water level to rise fast. Suta Lake was drained 14 years ago due to structural damage on the dam and is usually otherwise empty.

As Géza Miklós, director of the Hargita County Olt Water Management Agency, told Székelyhon, at the beginning of last week, they noticed that there was too much water in the lake, well in excess of the amount that should be flowing into it from the Fitód stream or any snowmelt. Intervention was required because if the lake had filled up completely, there might have been an overflow, and the excess water could have become unmanageable.

As the Romanian Waters agency reported on their Facebook page, the Harghita Water Management System (SGA) team, supported by teams from SGA Vâlcea and SGA Brașov, intervened with three motor pumps and other equipment. Within two days, they managed to unblock the drainage system, and the water level started to decrease.

It is expected that the reservoir will empty in a few days, and preparation for the long-awaited renovation work can begin, Székelyhon noted. As Minister of the Environment Barna Tánczos (of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania or RMDSZ) announced a few days ago on his Facebook page, the ministry will finance the renovation and landscaping. The Ministry of the Environment is also pursuing afforestation and will otherwise be handling neglected areas.

The reservoir had been re-qualified as a flood protection facility a few years ago, as it can help regulate the flow of the Fitód stream and thus prevent the flooding of the southern suburban area of Csíkszereda in case of heavy rainfall.

The renovation project will start with clearing vegetation from the lake bed; sediment will then be removed, and the dam will be strengthened and made taller, increasing the capacity of the lake.

Lake Suta had its heyday in the 1980s when it was one of the popular places for leisure activities such as boating, swimming and fishing. In the 1990s, interest declined, and even boating ceased. After the lake was drained in 2007, the area became desolate, visited only by some dog ​​walkers and animal herds. The area around the access road even became a disposal site for construction waste; the planned landscaping will include this area as well. The value of the investment is more than RON 4 million.

Title image source: Apele Române/Facebook

Author: Éva Zay