The lords of the dams

Published on Friday, 6 May 2016

“In Italy we operate more than 480 hydropower plants, in Spain more than 130. And in all the countries in the Americas where we are present we operate plants that generate electricity from water.”

Many of the hydropower plants currently operating in the world are built around dams, both large and small. The care of these masterpieces of engineering, imagination and will is entrusted to men and women who are daily engaged in a unique task.

Between nature and technology

Taking care of a dam means being immersed in a continuous dialogue with nature, which demands respect and returns its energy in exchange. You have to work every day, combining the patience of a monk and the expertise of a technician.

Measuring, monitoring and inspecting according to a precise schedule. A dam needs constant auscultation. And by repeating simple daily gestures, technology becomes increasingly important and effective.

“In the digital age, processors, high-tech devices and even underwater drones help us make increasingly accurate analyses and controls.”

An ageless job

At an altitude of 2100 metres on the Cavia lake, in the province of Belluno (Italy), today you can also find 20-year old Federica Sponga, who is a stable member of the team that watches over Enel Green Power's dam.

In the heart of the Maritime Alps in the province of Cuneo (Italy), two 30-year old young men are taking care of the Chiotas dam, the largest one in Italy and one of the biggest ones in Europe: Mauro Giordana and Marco Sardello.

Dam guard: the name sounds ancient, but several young people spend the day between barriers, pipelines, floodgates and sliders at our plants in Italy, Spain and Latin America.

Many regular gestures and an attention that never allows for monotony, with a deep silence and continuous shifts. The ordinary day of a dam guard is simple and intense. One season after the other, they are always looking towards the water mirror and the ingenious human work that holds and contains it. The dam is never left alone.