The reservoirs of Bergisches Land
Blue jewels in the forest
As well as controlling and storing water, these reservoirs also provide recreation for water sports enthusiasts and walkers.
No region in Europe has such a large concentration of reservoirs in such a small area as Bergisches Land. As many as twelve of these jewels crowd the valleys between green-clad hills. Forest walkers can now and then spot them glistening between the trees, while swimmers have a number of opportunities to enjoy their crystal-clear water. In other places, their waves can be seen crashing against the gigantic dam walls.
But Bergisches Land is no waterpark: the reservoirs were not built to look pretty or provide recreation, although these are welcome side benefits. They were actually constructed between 1899 and 1985 to supply drinking water for the large local population or control river levels, thereby helping to prevent floods.
The Große Dhünntalsperre alone provides fresh water for up to one million people per day in Wuppertal, Solingen and Remscheid. Even though it is the second-largest drinking water reservoir in Germany, it does not owe its name to its size or shape, but rather to the Große Dhünn river which it holds back. The majestic and isolated reservoir nestles in a nature reserve located between the towns of Kürten, Wermelskirchen, Dabringhausen and Odenthal. Bathing is not allowed in this lake, of course, but there are walking trails around its shores. This by itself makes the vast reservoir a popular escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
A holiday atmosphere is guaranteed at the Bevertalsperre on a hot summer day. Originally built as a service water reservoir at the end of the 19th century, its main function nowadays is to control the level of the Wupper, though it has a secondary use as a playground for water sports enthusiasts. Idyllic bays, footpaths and bathing areas make this an extremely lively spot in high summer. Guided tours of the dam installation are provided by arrangement.
Curious visitors can learn more about the Genkeltalsperre drinking water reservoir in Gummersbach without taking an organised tour. Illustrated boards at 13 locations dotted along a circular path explain the function of reservoirs and provide interesting facts about local geology, hydrology, agriculture and forestry. Groups can also arrange a viewing of the dam walls with the Aggerverband water management association.