The Lévézou is home to vast reserves of water, supplied primarily by the River Viaur and its many tributaries.
In the 1950s, France embarked upon a series of major infrastructure projects as part of its post-war reconstruction policy. In 1946, the construction of a hydroelectric power complex at Le Pouget was declared to be "of public utility" under the Marshall Plan, which made provision for the rebuilding and electrification of France. It took seven years to complete the project, which was entrusted to Ballot, a distinguished firm specialising in public construction projects. 2,500 labourers contributed to the building of the hydroelectric complex. Farms and hamlets were flooded and private land taken from its owners through compulsory purchase orders in order to carry out the project. Today, the lakes created are used by electricity company EDF and constitute one of the Lévézou's most prized tourist attractions, thanks to their man-made lakeside beaches and their suitability for watersports and fishing.
Construction work on the dams began in 1946. Five dams were built, namely:
The five lakes are all interlinked and the stored water is fed into the turbines of the Le Pouget plant in Le Truel.
Visit EDF's corporate site: www.edf.com
For further information, visit the site devoted to EDF's facilities in south-west France: www.uneriviereunterritoire.fr
The river's source is situated 1080 m above sea level at La Clau, at the foot of the Pic du Pal, a mountain in the commune of Vézins-de-Lévézou and part of the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses. The Viaur is 163 km long and joins the River Aveyron at Laguépie in the department of Tarn-et-Garonne.
The dams that are so characteristic of the Lévézou were built on the Viaur and its tributaries. The water is collected and released into the River Tarn at the Le Pouget hydroelectric plant in Le Truel.
The Lévézou is a high plateau and some parts of it are swept by particularly strong winds, Wind farms have therefore been built on the Lévézou. The Salles-Curan farm, which comprises 29 wind turbines, is the most important nationally. Others can be found in Ségur, Flavin, Trémouilles, and Canet-de-Salars.