a. Historical Benidorm water supply

Finca Lliriet with Benidorm in the background

Finca Lliriet with Benidorm in the background

Between the 13th century, when the area was under Islamic rule, and the 1940s in the Franco period, this valley with its aquifers – in the shadow of the majestic Jurassic limestone of Puig Campana – provided most of Benidorm’s water needs.

The Finca Lliriet is an ancient and feudal site going back to Islamic times and in the 19th century had an interesting connection with local literary and political currents through the curious “solitario de Lliriet”, Juan Bautista Thous y Carrera (for more on this, see El Lliriet de Thous by Joaquín Ronda Pérez i Maria Francia Galiana Botella.)

The main feature of the present run-down abandoned Finca Lliriet is the spring alongside the old ruined house: the Font de Lliriet pictured in the photos below.

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From this source, the water was channeled  down to Benidorm in aqueducts via a reserve storage tank in the barranco Lliriet, the gully that leads down from the mountains onto the plain where Benidorm is situated.

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All around this landscape is evidence of the various water installations, including a laundry point which clearly indicates a communal washing routine serving a small agricultural community – now lost in history – and old concrete installations for transferring the water from the aquifers to Benidorm, including the Balsa de Thous, seen from the road as you climb up towards Finestrat past Terra Natura.

Balsa de Thous in Liriet. It was 10 metres deep 60 metres long,  40 metres wide, with a 21.000 cubic metre capacity.  (Amillo)

Balsa de Thous in Liriet. It was 10 metres deep 60 metres long, 40 metres wide, with a 21.000 cubic metre capacity. (Amillo)

The Font de Carrers, higher up the valley was the main source for Benidorm, and it channels down into the same barranco Lliriet.

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The font de Carrers draws upon the limestone aquifers of Puig Campana and even after these past two years of drought (see Alicante drought page here on the blog) the spring is still giving a steady supply of pure water filtered through a vertical kilometre of Jurassic limestone from the prehistoric Tethys ocean.

The history of this water source goes back to the twelfth century under Islamic rule but the 20th century concrete tells a curious 20th century tale. In 1936 the UGT (Union General de Trabajadores) in Benidorm, which was a solidly socialist town throughout the Spanish Civil War, decided to guarantee the purity of the town’s water for the health of its citizens. They seized the rights to the source which was on private land and improved the channel all the way to Benidorm.  They built a laundry point in Benidorm, later demolished after the civil war.

Scratched into the concrete you can still see the impromptu inscription made by the UGT in 1936, celebrating their work on the water system:

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This is the first of a series of pages about the water system of Benidorm and it is to be developed further. Please also see the highly detailed and authoritative blog of Francisco Amillo Alegre who has written a very detailed study of the local water system, which has inspired my own interest and further explorations. I am grateful to him for sharing his study of hydrology with my geography students and look forward to further joint work with him in future.  Further description of the water system of Benidorm and Marina Baixa will rely heavily on Amillo’s work, which I will translate, adding to it my own observations and research.

 

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