Since the summer of 2022 it is no longer possible to swim in the Freibach reservoir, much to the chagrin of many swimming fans from the surrounding communities. This is because Kelag noticed structural changes on the left side of the mountain below the dam, and then lowered the water level of the reservoir by 7 meters as a precaution. At the same time, planning began for the renovation works, which have been ongoing since August 2023. The reservoir lake, which has a depth of 40 meters and is a frequent destination for divers, was lowered by 20 meters for this purpose. According to project manager Jörg Friedrich, three measures will be taken to seal the mountain side: concrete injections into the mountain side, a new underground sealing wall (30 meters long and up to one meter thick) will be created using the jet-jet process. In addition to the existing dam seals, approximately 200 meters of drainage will be installed along the dam. Flood evacuation was carried out for controlled drainage of slope waters. At the same time, Kelag is also strengthening the 200-meter-long maintenance tunnel on the mountainside. The investment cost of the entire project is around 8.5 million euros. “Construction work is progressing as planned, we expect completion in early summer 2024, after which the reservoir can be re-dammed. Refilling should occur through natural inflow and pumping processes,” explains Christian Rupp, Head of Production/Technical Services at Kelag.

Freibach storage maintenance tunnel

Work in the tunnel is carried out in a very small area

© Simone Jäger

To ensure this target is achieved, 25 construction workers work in two shifts on the large construction site, seven days a week, including nights. It is especially difficult to work with heavy equipment in a confined space in a maintenance tunnel.

Employee storage Freibach |  Project manager Jörg Friedrich, employee Günther Ladinig, head of production/technical services Christian Rupp (left to right)

Freibach storage worker

Project manager Jörg Friedrich, employee Günther Ladinig, head of production/technical services Christian Rupp (left to right)

© Simone Jäger

Electricity for 8,000 households

The Freibach storage power plant, located on the border between the Völkermarkt and Klagenfurt-Land regions, was commissioned in 1958 and has an output of 17 megawatts. “This means approximately 8,000 households could be supplied with electricity,” adds Rupp. Freibach reservoir Zell and St. It extends throughout the municipalities of Margareten (Klagenfurt-Land district), while the power plant itself is located on the banks of the river Drau in the municipality of Gallizien (Völkermarkt district). Water from the reservoir is pumped to the power plant through a pressurized pipeline.

Freibach reservoir |  When the reservoir fills again it will hold 5.6 million cubic meters of water

Freibach reservoir

When the reservoir fills again it will hold 5.6 million cubic meters of water

© Simone Jäger

“Dam safety is ensured by more than 100 measuring points that detect the smallest changes,” emphasizes Friedrich. “A storage power plant is one of the best monitored structures,” adds Rupp. Those in charge at Kelag are aware that the half-empty reservoir has not been a “usual sight” over the past two summers, especially for tourists, but that renovation measures are inevitable. By the summer of 2024 – if everything goes as planned – there should be 5.6 million cubic meters of water at full storage capacity again.

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Freibach storage facility

The sealing of the dam is done without winter break

Aerial view of the Freibach reservoir from the beginning of August.  The reservoir will be significantly reduced again

great excitement

Popular tourist attraction is closed (for now) for renovations

There is almost no water left in the Freibach reservoir;  swimming, diving and fishing are almost impossible