At the letter R at the Bisse du Rho, meet Jacky Bagnoud, whose life has always been closely linked to water. He tells you how the Bisse du Rho was constructed, and about its use.
Jacky Bagnoud was born in Icogne in December 1936. After primary school, which at that time lasted from November to the end of April, he found himself aged 15 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 long political mandate, progressing from councillor to vice-president, then president of the commune of Icogne, and completing 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 his life, as 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. It should be remembered 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 for the first time, a lorry, to go to the inauguration at Plans-Mayens. From this moment 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 played his part in 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 helped with 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. Regarding 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 on 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…
The Bisse du Rho today is a wonderful walk, taking us to the water intake at the bottom of the Ertenze Valley. It is fed by water that runs off the Plaine Morte Glacier, Lake Huiton and the Ertenze catchment area through 4 tunnels, dug under the Huiton plain in the 1800s. It has irrigated the prairies and vines of the Louable Contrée area since this time, but it was abandoned in 1947 when maintenance work, waterproofing in particular, became too costly. From this date onwards, it was replaced by the Mont-Lachaux tunnel.
Built in the 14th Century, the Bisse du Rho was completely channelled into pipes in the 20th Century, and today offers a magnificent walk between Crans-Montana and the Rawyl Dam.
Sylvie Doriot Galofaro, Samuel Bonvin and Martial Kamerzin will tell you more about the 125 years project and the history of the resort.