The Tawe barrage

link_to_french_translationThe Tawe barrage

This was the UK’s first barrage across an estuary designed for amenity. Construction started in 1990 and ended in 1992, when the Tawe was impounded to create a long lake. Previously mudflats had been exposed along the banks by each falling tide.

Swansea Yacht and Sub Aqua Club created a 200-berth marina on the river. Access to the sea is via the barrage’s lock. The barrage also enables boats to travel in and out of the marina in the former South Dock at any state of tide on neap tides, or with only a 1hr 30mins closure either side of low water on spring tides. Previously access was restricted to 3hrs 30mins either side of high tide.

The barrage features a fish pass, for salmon and sea trout to return from the sea to their native rivers to spawn. Initially there was a drop in the numbers of fish reaching the lower Tawe. The fish pass was therefore improved in 2000. The lake north of the barrage is mainly freshwater, but the barrage was designed to allow high tides to overtop to maintain the brackish environment needed by migratory fish at this stage in their journeys.

A 200kW hydro-electric generator was installed when the barrage was built to create enough electricity to power the lock gates. It ceased to operate c.1995.

The Wales Coast Path and National Cycle Network route 4 both cross the barrage.

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