The Zola dam (XIXth century)

Published on 30 January 2008
The Zola dam at the beginning of the XXth century
The structure in 1873


The dam built at Aix-en-Provence by François Zola, the father of the writer, is the perfect example of a major innovation that was to pass, however, almost unnoticed once it was commissioned.

France would have to wait until 1930 to see a new structure of this type built; a century was to go by from the first project submission in 1838!

It was in that year that François Zola suggested to the local council of Aix that he be given the franchise for the water supply of the town using a dam in the Infernet valley. At a height of 42 metres, his structure, inspired by older installations, remains as the first arch dam of the industrial era.

It was also one of the first times that there was a plan to supply a town with water from a large reservoir - which was why the populace was not so keen! The dam also served to power the factories, using the fall between the arrival of the canal at Aix and the various points of delivery of drinking water.

In 1871, it was named after its author, and it still remains in service today.