Ex-Pat News

An End to Rafting in Morzine?

Natalie and Jeremy at Frogs Rafting have just brought this to our attention! Theres a chance that, because of proposed changes in the way the water filters through the hydro-electric dam on the River Dranse, Morzine will loose its white water rafting bases. Now, anyone who’s been rafting, either with Frogs or any of the other excellent companies on the Dranse, will know how much fun it is. It would be a real shame if the resort couldn’t offer the activity to summer holidaymakers in the future. Natalie and Jeremy explain the situation best…

What’s all this about the Dranse closing for Rafting??

It’s more complicated than it sounds but here’s a brief overview:

Where white-water activities take place on the Dranse, just below Le Bioge Hydro-Electric Power Station, is reliant upon the release of water from the Power Station. The Power Station is reliant on the dam at Le Jotty to supply enough water for the turbines which in turn supplies the release of water to the Lower Dranse and allows us to raft. The minimum amount of water required to raft safely is 12 cubic metres per second (12m3/sec). During the driest months in summer, July and August, the flow comes down to between 12-15m3/sec when the turbines are working, and they work for only 3-4 hours per day. This is because there’s not enough water stored in the dam at Le Jotty (due to lack of rain etc.). New rules being brought in demand that there is a constant flow (24/7) through the zone between the dam at Le Jotty and the Power Station at Le Bioge.

At the moment the constant flow through the dry zone is around 1.5m3/sec, it is to be raised to 2.5m3/sec from 1 Jan 2014. As a result the flow on the Dranse is likely to fall below the minimum 12m3/sec while the turbines are working: this is why we will not be able to raft on it.

The environmental benefits of the additional 1m3/sec being released into the dry zone are un-calculated, and the environmental impact of the reduced flow lower on the Dranse has likewise not been researched. We do know that the socio-economic impact will be the loss of 70 jobs (raft guides, photographers and secretaries) and the cessation of summer-time white-water activities and all that brings with it to local restaurants, equipment outlets, etc.

The river itself is well known in the kayaking world and attracts many visitors because of its grade iii and iv rapids, unusual rock formations and varied flow patterns. We are petitioning the Government to reconsider the amount of water that will run through the dry zone, so that white-water activities can continue on the Dranse, even if it just during a short window each day.

If you would like to be able to participate in white-water activities in 2014, please sign our petition.

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