Hello and welcome to L’Assut dam.
L’Assut is a dam built diagonally across the river Ebro. It is about 310 meters long and 6 meters high. It serves the purpose of diverting the water to the hydro-electric power plant and to the canals on the left and right banks of the Ebro. Its diagonal design gives the dam a unique look, as most dams run at right angles with the river banks. All of the water not diverted to the plant or to the canals cascades over the central spillway, which runs all along its span giving it a breathtaking look.
The works of L’Assut dam are thought to have begun in the Islamic era, and it was continued or restored in the mid-12th century. However, the dam was not finished until 1411 by the city of Tortosa, under the direction of Mussà Alamí.
In 1857 the first canal, the Right bank canal, was inaugurated, which required the first regularisation and rising of the dam’s crest. The Left bank canal was inaugurated in 1912. It was then when L’Assut got its present look, thanks to the intervention of Mr Jules Carvallo, an engineer at Real Compañía de Canalización y Riegos del Ebro.
Also, in the mid-nineteenth century, a canal lock was built, which makes it possible for boats to sail upstream and overcome the barrier of the dam. It is the same lock that is now used for tourist boating. So, the river is navigable from the town of Flix down to its mouth in the Delta de l’Ebre.
Among the old trading vessels of the past, there stand out the log rafts that used to descend from the Pyrenees down to Tortosa, or the traditional river boats laden with Portland cement and chalk coming from the factories located farther up the dam.
In 2002, a hydro-electric power plant was built at the dam which caused a strong visual impact on the environment.
Finally, if you look at the right bank of the river, at the bottom you can still see a flour mill built in 1575, which unfortunately remains in a very poor condition. The building has got a basement of finely-cut masonry, with a carved stone that bears the Tortosa arms in the centre, and a legend on each side referring to its construction date. The mill is one of the few Renaissance industrial constructions preserved in Catalonia. At the beginning of the 20th century, an electricity generating plant was installed in the same mill, which supplied the towns of Xerta and Aldover. In 2009 the Xerta council declared the mill a local heritage site and fights for its preservation.