Ghost village emerges from the deep as drought empties reservoir

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

The village of Aceredo was flooded in 1992 when a Portuguese hydroelectric plant closed its floodgates

Ghost village emerges from the deep as drought empties reservoir
Aceredo
The village of Aceredo was flooded in 1992 to create the Alto Lindoso reservoir CREDIT: Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Emilio Morenatti

A ghost village which has been submerged underwater in north-west Spain for the past 30 years has become an eerie tourist attraction after the ruins were revealed when a drought nearly emptied a reservoir. 

The village of Aceredo in Spain’s Galicia region was flooded in 1992 to create the Alto Lindoso reservoir – but with water levels now at 15 per cent capacity, features of the settlement long-forgotten are being revealed once again.

“It’s as if I’m watching a movie. I have a feeling of sadness,” said Maximino Perez Romero, from A Coruna. “My feeling is that this is what will happen over the years due to drought and all that, with climate change.”

Aceredo
Visitors are seen walking around the deserted streets of Aceredo CREDIT: AP/Emilio Morenatti
Aceredo
The water levels in the Alto Lindoso reservoir are currently only at 15 per cent capacity CREDIT: AP/Emilio Morenatti

Walking on the muddy ground cracked by the drought, visitors found partially collapsed roofs, bricks and wooden debris that once made up doors and beams. Visitors even found a drinking fountain with water still streaming from a rusty pipe.

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Crates of empty beer bottles were seen stacked next to a former café, and a semi-destroyed car was found rusting away by a stone wall. 

Maria del Carmen Yanez, mayor of the larger Lobios council, of which Aceredo is part, blamed the situation on the lack of rain in recent months, but also on what she said was “quite aggressive exploitation” by Portugal’s power utility EDP, which manages the reservoir.

Aceredo
People walk among the damaged buildings of the village CREDIT: Shutterstock/Brais Lorenzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Aceredo
Portugal’s government recently ordered six dams, including Alto Lindoso, to nearly halt water use for electricity production and irrigation due to the worsening drought CREDIT: Shutterstock/Brais Lorenzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

On Feb 1, Portugal’s government ordered six dams, including Alto Lindoso, to nearly halt water use for electricity production and irrigation due to the worsening drought.

EDP said the low reservoir levels were due to the drought, but added that it was managing water resources “efficiently” and that these were above the minimum requirements, including at Alto Lindoso.

Questions over the sustainability of reservoirs are not new. Last year, several Spanish villages complained about how power companies are using them after a rapid draw-down from a lake by Iberdrola in western Spain. The company said it was following the rules.

Aceredo
The roof of an old house can be seen submerged in the Alto Lindoso reservoir CREDIT: AP/Emilio Morenatti

Data from the Spanish environment ministry shows Spain’s reservoirs are at 44 per cent of their capacity, well below the average of about 61 per cent over the last decade, but still above levels registered in a 2018 drought. 

A ministry source said drought indicators showed a potential worsening in the coming weeks, but did not yet detect a generalised problem throughout the country.

Jose Alvarez, a former construction worker from Lobios, felt a mix of nostalgia and fatalism at he remembered his working days in Aceredo.

“It’s terrible, but it is what it is. That’s life. Some die and others live,” he said.

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