Emergency structural work at the Plaine Morte glacier lake

Mon, 15. Apr. 2019

At the glacier lake Faverges, structural work has been carried out to divert water from the melted snow into a glacier mill. This will cost around two million francs.

Over recent years, experience has shown that the lake’s ability to drain is critical when the water volume exceeds one million cubic meters. This is according to a press release by the flood protection company, Lenk. So far, the lake has always drained away more or less on time via a sub-glacial cave network. However, the water can’t drain away now due to a very flat, wide ice barrier, measuring around 1km in width and about 10 to 13m in height.

To alleviate the situation, the municipality of Crans-Montana came up with an idea for a project to keep the lake’s water level in check by pumping it off. The excess water could then be used on the Valais side. However, due to difficult conditions last winter, preventing the integration of a power line to connect the pumping equipment, the project was put on hold. Experts say there’s a strong likelihood that we’ll experience a similar problem this summer to back in 2018. It’s also highly unlikely that the drainage system will still work and that the lake won’t flood.

Therefore, the working groups addressing these issues have been looking into whether the system could be reused or reactivated and, if so, how this could be achieved. "We’ve been in touch with several independent companies and have found a solution through a combination of trenching and micro-tunnelling work. The aim is to guide the water through the ice barrier and let it disperse into the existing mill.” The costs of these measures will come to around CHF 2m. 

Based on AvS/Anita Moser
Translated by Justine Hewson

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