The Giants, the Girl and the Dam

Sunday, 21 February 2016

“It’s not a common job, especially for a young woman like me. But I feel good up there and I welcomed the chance to work on a dam very positively. ”

– Federica Sponga

Among the giants of the Dolomites

Dam monitoring is an activity that keeps Federica busy a few days a week. Just over three months ago, she started to become familiar with the body of water and structures in the territory of Falcade, nestled between the peaks of the Dolomites, stone giants that mark the territory on the border between Veneto and Trentino.

“I had already worked at the Vodo dam in Cadore, in the province of Belluno, for a time”, she explains. “Once you get over the first period of settling in, everything becomes easier. For my part, at the base of my work is the great relationship I have with the mountain. That definitely helps a lot”.

The mild winter spared her particular trouble this year, and her work, as she settled in, mainly concerned measuring and monitoring the basin of Cavia lake. “But when winter comes and there is snow to shovel”, adds Federica, “it won’t be so easy to work at an altitude of 2100 metres”. 

“Here, it’s necessary to get used to the rhythms of nature and plunge into monotonies that are unknown to many, since we’re used to the frenzy of the city.”

“You have a lot of time to spend by yourself, alone, due to the fact that there is no internet up there, and communication is reduced to just what is essential. It helps to unplug a bit from daily life, but you always have to remain alert and with your eyes wide open”, says Federica.

Between nature and technology

Taking care of a dam means being immersed in a constant dialogue with nature, which demands respect and in return gives its energy. It’s necessary to work every day by putting together the patience of a monk and the expertise of a technician.

“A dam needs to be listened to, constantly. And in the repetition of simple routine gestures, technology becomes more and more important and efficient.”

Measurements, monitoring and inspections follow a precise agenda. And today, in the age of the digital revolution, processors, high tech devices and even underwater drones help us to make analysis and checks ever more precise and accurate”.

Many repeat actions and a sense of attention that never allows for monotony. A lot of silence and continuous shifts. The average day is simple and intense for a dam-guard. Through the seasons with eyes always fixed on the body of water and on the ingenious human endeavour that harnesses and contains it. The dam is never left alone.