First power expected in September from Pirrís project

Workmen watch the first flow of water enter the reservoir site. Photo: Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad expects that its new Pirrís hydro generating station will be online in September.

Water began being diverted from the nearby Río Pirrís Tuesday, and engineers expect that the reservoir behind the new dam will require about three months to fill.

Tunnel will carry water 6.5 miles to a generating station in Aserrí. Photo: Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad

The dam itself is 113 meters high, some 371 feet, and 266 meters long, some 873 feet. The dam is on the division line between León Cortés and Dota. Workmen used 728,000 cubic meters of concrete to build the retaining structure. That’s nearly a million cubic yards.

The electrical company said the concrete was enough to build 73,000 small homes. The dam is one of the largest in the world, the company has said.

The project represents an investment of $600 million, the company said. It will produce 134 megawatts of power, enough for 160,000 homes in Dota, Trrazú, León Cortés, Parrita and Aserrí, the company said.

The hydro project was reported to be about 96 percent finished, the company said there is work that could not be done until the reservoir began to fill.

Another project will be a road between San Carlos de León Cortés and Llano Bonito de Dota. That will be started in May, officials said.

In May 2008, the hydro project suffered a major setback when Tropical Storm Alma lashed the site.

The Instituto Costarricence de Electricidad and its contractor had to evacuate about 1,100 workers from the project because of the storm, which then inflicted costly damage to the construction.

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