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Canal du Midi water supplying

Canal du Midi water supplying

One of the main problems of the Canal du Midi was water supply.

In order to solve this problem, Riquet considered using the nearby streams to supply the canal with water. If you study the topography a little, you notice that the canal cuts the natural flow of rivers horizontally. So in the beginning, he thought he could use the streams in order to keep a certain level of water in the canal, in addition to the Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) waters that supply most of the water.

Plan of the water feeding conduct of the Canal du Midi from the Montagne Noire (Black Mountain)

In 1660, Riquet found eventually the solution to his problem of water supply. He decided to supply the canal upstream with the waters of the Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) (that combines a lot of different streams) and to create a water sharing in the Seuil de Naurouze, the highest place of the canal at 192 meters above sea level.

Thanks to this system, both sides of the canal (the first one towards the Mediterranean Sea and the other towards the Atlantic Ocean) are naturally supplied with water. Imagine a minute the amount of water needed to supply the 240 kilometers of the Canal throughout the year! It was a real challenge! But Riquet was going to win this crazy bet.

So the idea was to collect the Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) waters. Thanks to his huge knowledge of hydrology due to his job of salt tax collector, Riquet imagined a clever water irrigation system. In order to store the coming waters, he began the construction of a big recovery basin: St Ferréol. In fact, you need enough water to fill in the entire canal.

At that time, Saint-Ferréol basin was the biggest « tank ».

Then, the water is flowed to the Seuil de Naurouze through a channel that Riquet built at his own expense (it allowed him to prove to Louis XIV that the construction of the Canal du Midi was feasible). 

The works of the Canal du Midi started in 1667 and lasted for 14 years, mobilizing more than 12 000 men.

But some problems still remained

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