At the letter T at the Rawyl Dam, meet Jacky Bagnoud, whose life has always been closely linked to water. He tells you about the challenges involved in the construction of the dam.
Jacky Bagnoud was born in Icogne in December 1936. After primary school, which at that time lasted from November to the end of April, at 15 years old he found himself wielding a pick and shovel as a building worker in order to help put food on the family table. So he was by no means predestined for a 32 year political mandate, progressing from councillor to vice-president, then president of the commune of Icogne, going on to complete his career as president of the Coordination Commission for the Haut-Plateau Communes. A dedicated and passionate sportsman, he was a founding member and president of La Lienne-Icogne Ski Club, in charge of the youth (OJ) section. At 82, he still spends some sixty days of the year on skis, and covers over 10,000 km on his bike. He has however given up tennis.
Water has always been an important element in Jacky’s life, as he would go to clean the irrigation ‘bisses’, which were fed by the Grand Bisse de Lens and the Bisse du Rho, and which irrigated the meadows downstream. We should remember that during those years, water for local households was provided by springs above the village. In 1947, the Mont-Lachaux tunnel was built by the 4 communes (Icogne, Lens, Chermignon, Montana) and the ‘consortages’, or consortiums, were inaugurated. Jacky remembers it well, as at the age of ten, he rode in a vehicle, a lorry, for the very first time when he went to the inauguration at Plans-Mayens. From this time onwards, the 4 communes decided to collect water from springs in the Tsan d’Er region. This water was transported by pipes through the tunnel to Plans-Mayens. In 1951, Jacky helped with work on the drinking water supply line from Plans-Mayens to Icogne, work which was done by hand, as excavators, compressors and other machinery was of course unknown in the region at that time. Subsequently, he worked on the construction of the road that would lead to the future Le Croix power plant, and then the construction of the plant itself. At the same time, the Zeuzier dam was being built, with a capacity of 50 million m3. As for the dam, Jacky remembers going up on foot from Icogne to Zeuzier when he was 16 years old to help his father (who was president of the forestry commission) and the forester mark trees to be felled at the site of the future dam. At the same time, he left Icogne with 25kg of cement on his back to go to the Lienne riverbed to repair the water intake on the Grand Bisse de Lens, also known as the Bisse de la Rioutaz. Unforgettable memories which make us aware of the passage of time…
It was in 1956 that work on the dam finally finished, and it started producing electricity for Le Croix plant. In addition to its capacity to collect water for electricity production, since 1969 the Zeuzier Dam has also been vitally important as a water supply to the Haut-Plateau communes, for both drinking water and irrigation water for mechanical snowmaking. When the flow of springs decreases, the valve on the Zeuzier pipeline is opened, acting as a safety valve.
From 1960 onwards, Le Croix plant was also Jacky’s place of work. So for over 50 years, his professional and political life have been intimately and passionately linked to water. It wasn’t unusual to meet him running along the Bisse du Rho or the Grand Bisse de Lens on his way to check and maintain these streams; or to see him down a hole in the middle of winter busy repairing a water leak whilst he was president of the commune, or president of the Intercommunal Water Commission, thanks to which the drinking water supply on the Haut-Plateau is still guaranteed today.
Between lake, mountains and untamed nature, a wonderful walk awaits you around the Tzeusier Lake.
Sylvie Doriot Galofaro, Samuel Bonvin and Martial Kamerzin will tell you more about the 125 years project and the history of the resort.