Reservoirs in the Spotlight
In order to offer winter sports enthusiasts perfect pistes all season long, snowmaking has become essential in ski resorts. In the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn there are now 14 reservoirs, which are important water suppliers for snow production. The Hochalm I reservoir was the first reservoir in Hinterglemm when it was built in 1992. Now it has had its day and is being returned to nature as a compensation measure for nature conservation. The Rosswald reservoir on the Reiterkogel is also a highlight in summer due to the expansion of the infrastructure.
Reservoirs - what's the point?
Water is undoubtedly the most important component for snowmaking in ski resorts. Reservoirs are created so that the natural water bodies are not burdened by withdrawals, especially in the winter months when runoff is low. High reservoirs compensate for the energy consumption peaks by pumping pressure. When the snow melts and evaporation occurs, 100 % of the water is returned to nature, thus creating a water cycle.
The reservoirs also play an important role in flood protection and also function as buffer zones. If extreme amounts of precipitation fall in a short period of time - for example during so-called "high weather" in summer - all the water that collects on a mountain would flow downhill very quickly. This can very quickly bring water bodies such as the Saalach in the region to their intake limits and in the worst case result in flooding. Reservoirs counteract this by absorbing parts of the water, keeping it on the mountain and then allowing it to flow off in doses - controlled via weirs.
And what about nature?
There's no question about it: constructed reservoirs and the entire infrastructure, such as pumping stations, pipelines and snowmaking facilities, are an intrusion on nature. Everyone who works in this field and plans and implements projects is aware of this. It is in our best interest to keep nature intact and to minimise the impact of tourism infrastructure. After all, we live in, from and with our environment and it is our quality of life that is at stake.
The Hochalm I reservoir
Built in 1992, it was the first of its kind in Hinterglemm - the Hochalm I reservoir with a capacity of 137,300m³. In 2018, construction started on the neighbouring Hochalm II reservoir, which was completed in October 2019 and, with a capacity of 251,300m³, is an important addition to the water reservoir in the region. Since the winter of 2019/20, the Hochalm I reservoir has no longer been used as a water reservoir, but as a retention basin for the piste areas - in other words, a catchment basin for melt water, so to speak.
In the course of completing the Hochalm II reservoir, the old reservoir was also renaturalised. The conversion work in summer 2022 gave a piece of nature back and the area now blends perfectly into the landscape of Saalbach's mountain world.
The reservoir Rosswald
The Rosswald reservoir is also located in Hinterglemm. With a capacity of 230,500m³, 96% of the piste areas in the Reiterkogel area can be supplied with snow in winter. Several different replacement and compensation measures were implemented in the landscape ecological design, for example a 200m² pond was created as a new habitat for animals and plants.
Since this year, the reservoir has also been a highlight for young and old in summer. There you will find adventure play letters, a slide tower and a water playground. A new motor skills track has also been built here. Kodok's Adventure (a 3.2 km long adventure trail) also leads past the Rosswald reservoir. Those who simply want to unwind can use the cosy resting places to enjoy the fantastic panoramic view.
The reservoirs in the region are therefore not only essential in winter, but also important in summer and definitely worth a visit. These are of course free of charge and usually easy to reach by gondola.