Francesc Cots Alcoverro

Benifallet among two centuries


Francesc Cots Alcoverro was born in Benifallet in 1925. The Civil War and the postwar period forced him to work early. From 1943 to 1954 he was the promoter of the local theatre group. From 1948, together with two friends, he introduced the sardana dance in Benifallet. 


He is a habitual writer and self-taught poet. He has cooperated in the writing of the local geography and the geography of Catalonia. Moreover he is a member of the Commission of Representatives of the Ribera d'Ebre (CARE). 


Francesc’s life is very tied to his village and to the river Ebre. 


In 1960 he took part in a discussion against the building of an hydraulic dam that would have represented the disappearance of the village and part of the Ribera Ebre. To regulate the river is necessary because many villages were flooded when there were periods of hard rains but it’s necessary to control the location of the dams when some villages can be affected.


After the appropriate studies, they got to the conclusion that to regulate the river it was necessary to build three dams, from Xerta to Casp. The first one to be built would be the big one in Xerta. The dam of Xerta gives water to two channels, one of them used to cultivate the rice of Delta del Ebre. In 1934, the first surveys started but they stopped when The Spanish Civil War started. 


In 1940, the surveys continued and they were not finished yet when the surveys of Riba-Roja started. This dam was finished with many problems and the machines started to build the third dam, the one placed in Garcia, but they had to stop because there weren’t enough studies done yet. 


Some years later, around 1960, Xerta town hall received the order to start the building of the dam immediately. If they did that Xerta would have been flooded, the same as other five villages, with a total population of over 20000 people. At that moment, the CARE was created and together with a woman that loved her village they stopped the works for two years. 


Two years later, having exhausted all the resources, it looked like the fight had been useless because the works were about to start. 


Before that occurred, the works to build a channel of 19 cubic meters per second from Xerta to Sagunt had already started (Alts Forns). The channel isn’t finished and for this reason the lecturer thinks it won’t be finished ever. On the other hand, the idea to build the dams was for a lack of electricity. It was necessary to build hydroelectric power plants. 


When the City Council of Mequinensa discovered that the elevations of the dam bearing its name were higher than those written on the plans, it was decided to build a wall to contain the water and in this way avoid possible floods Also, the level planned for the construction of the Xerta dam was 19.27 m below sea level, but its construction was planned for level 30 or even 40.


Francesc remembers the great floods that occurred in his village some time ago, while nowadays they are becoming less frequent. The danger we have today is that when there is water in the reservoirs, it hurts to let it go. They hold it as long as they can.


The Mequinensa swamp, years ago, was between 80% and 90% of capacity. The one in Riba-roja was also quite full.


In the end they opened the floodgates as there was a danger of flooding and the dam breaking.


Rice needs a certain amount of water, which must then be released when the rice is about to be harvested. No one uses this water. The only problem would be the use you want to make of it, since it would be composed of certain organic materials. It could also be pumped into swamps for use.


One of the possible solutions to the problem of water being lost to the sea would be the construction of more reservoirs that could regulate the irregular flows of the rivers. Perhaps for Catalonia, it would be cheaper to take water from the Rhone than from the Ebro. It would be enough to build a tunnel to cross the Pyrenees.


More and more water is needed in this tourist area (for drinking, cleaning, swimming pools, golf courses...). Francesc thinks that for now there is no tourism in the Balkans, but when the country is more stabilized in Spain there will possibly be more empty apartments.