Monday, 31 March 2014

Sunday Morning Trip To Wushantou Reservoir: From The South Harbor To The Spillway & Dam

I had little sleep on Saturday night, which has only exacerbated my general tiredness, but I still got up early enough to get to the south harbor of Wushantou reservoir at about 7.40am and was on the water in ten minutes or so. Operating the long bamboo paddle was harder than usual because of the internal bruising in my right hand, but I still made decent time and was well out of sight of the south harbor within half an hour.

Above: looking back eastward toward the south harbor (hidden behind the far peninsula in the background) at about 8.30am. Below: looking westward through the "gap" in one of the many peninsulas that obviates the need to circumnavigate this peninsula because it allows the smaller rafts to take a short cut through to the other side...

The gap is, however, too small for the larger rafts and other boats to pass through without risking damage to their outboard motors (due to the shallow depth). The image below shows the view looking back eastward through the gap. Note also the long bamboo branch caught on my raft and bent out of shape; it normally stretches out across the gap from right to left...

At about 9am, I had reached my first position well within sight of both the spillway and dam from the south-west area of the reservoir. The dam is the long green horizontal strip to the right, and the spillway is to the left of the white house which gives the appearance of sitting between the dam and the spillway, but is actually on part of the dam itself...

Another long-range shot taken with the 18mm; the water intake tower is just visible in the distance off to the right. Water from Wushantou reservoir exits in one of four ways: irrigation water for the extensive Chia-nan canal network flows out through copper pipes under the dam; water for industrial and residential use is pumped out through a large-diameter pipe running up and over the dam down into a water treatment facility located on the premises; water for use in the (front) hydro-electric power plant passes out through a water intake tower; and finally, excess water during flood events passes out through the spillway.

Nearing the spillway and dam, but still some distance off with the breeze lapping the waves up against my raft and pushing me back whenever I stopped to mess about with the camera...

The spillway to the left of the white house. That mansion was originally one of Chiang Kai-shek's many residences throughout Taiwan, but is now used primarily as the office headquarters for the Chia-nan irrigation association. I have always found the people there to be very helpful and friendly.

Closer still...

Looking back eastwards the way I had came; by this point it must have been about 9.30am or just after, and I used one of the filters since the sun was so bright...

Below is the view directly onto the perforated arch of the spillway. This is primarily what I had came for because although I did have previous pictures, this is the first time I've reached this point relatively early in the morning on a sunny day with the sun behind me to the east. Each concrete pillar in the spillway arch is just over two meters in height and their function is to disperse flood waters evenly into multiple streams to prevent the erosion to the spillway channel that might occur were the flood waters allowed to coalesce...

I am informed that the difference in height between the spillway and the dam crest is approximately eight meters, though if you eyeball only the concrete buttress immediately to the right of the spillway arch and bear in mind that each pillar is about two meters high, then you might think the dam is only three times that, i.e. six meters higher. However, the mansion rests upon a slight upward slope which presumably is sufficient to make up the extra two meters...

There was an older man fishing with (presumably) his daughter in front of the spillway. Wushantou reservoir is teeming with fish - I often see them leaping out of the water and though I haven't yet bothered to identify particular species, I'm guessing they're mostly trout.

The official harbor for the reservoir authorities at the foot of the dam - this section of the dam juts out eastward from its' more general curvature. The passenger boat is to ferry people to and from one of the little islands in the reservoir, though I still don't know what exactly the attraction is.

Another shot of the dam and harbor facing dead-on; note the speed-boat parked under protective canvas covers...

When I rounded the jutting toe of the dam, I had a little bit of a surprise: an inflatable yellow duck/goose thingy had been installed in the corner - obviously in an attempt to cash in on the recent giant yellow duck craze. In my experience however, though they may all like to pay hero-worship to the chief architect of the reservoir (Yoichi Hatta), very few Taiwanese people actually visit Wushantou reservoir itself so the duck thing may have been pointless. Their regard for the creator far exceeds their regard for the actual creation...

And here is a shot looking up at the general curve of Yoichi Hatta's earthwork dam; the dam is special because of the methods used in its' construction and the fortuitously fine-grained nature of the local clay that allowed those methods to work. Previous dams using this method in the U.S. had failed due to the clay being insufficiently fine.

On my way back I passed by One-Tree Island and although I was relatively pleased with my work, I was somewhat disappointed not to have taken any good shots of the eagles or ospreys. I did get sight of the eagles, but at too great a distance to be worth bothering with. One of the ospreys surprised me on my way back through the gap, but I didn't have the camera ready and it was too late.

I think I will probably leave Wushantou reservoir for a while now, and go elsewhere. I have a lot of work to do in Miaoli County still, but precious little time and opportunity to do it. Down here in the south, I still have some work to do at the two Taiwan Sugar Company-owned reservoirs, Jianshanpei reservoir and Luliao reservoir - though entry to Luliao reservoir is a problem that must be solved somehow.


  1. Mike, it appears you found the solitude, you intimated you would in comments at my place, on your visit to the reservoir, with the exception of the old guy and his daughter fishing. I'm curious why you think the reservoir may be teeming with trout? If it is, you should cast a fly at them.

    I especially enjoy your last pic. Are those trees growing on some kind of rock outcrop in the reservoir, or, is that some kind of floating island made of years of accumulated debris? Take care of that hand.

  2. John,

    Wushantou reservoir is certainly teaming with fish, but how many of them are trout I don't really know; so my guess should be taken with a pinch of salt I suppose. Tilapia, bass and carp are the other freshwater fish you might expect to find, and I've heard there are some big Toman fish a few miles further north east up in Tseng-wen reservoir. Fish stocks are one aspect of my reservoir interest I should do more homework on...

  3. Mike, it would be kind of interesting to know about the types of fish residing in those reservoirs you visit, and also to take a fly rod to them, probably an eight weight fly rod, considering the size a Toman can achieve. In your many trips to the various reservoirs, have you seen anyone waving a fly rod at the fish?

    One more question, about your raft. Did you put that together, and do you haul it back and forth each time? I have to say, in appearance, the raft has that aged look, i.e. it appears to be of the type of construction utilized even in days long gone by.

  4. John, about the trout: I asked a friend about it on Wednesday night (unlike myself, he's an amateur angler) and I was duly relieved of my ignorance. Since trout prefer cold water, there won't be any trout in any of the reservoirs though there may be some high up in the colder streams running down from the mountains in Taichung and Nantou county.

    On fishing: I have never done it before, but I think I'd like to take it up eventually when I can afford the time. Yes, now and again, I've seen people with fly-rods; in fact I believe the old man and his daughter in the pictures above were both wielding fly-rods. One of the reservoirs up north in Miaoli County, Liyutan reservoir (鯉魚潭水庫) owes its name to the fact it contains carp since in Chinese the word "Liyu" (鯉魚) means carp (the second character "yu" 魚 means fish, with the first character "li" 鯉 specifying type). The third character in that name "tan" 潭 means "lake", and the last two characters "水庫" mean "water storage" or "reservoir" so a literal translation of 鯉魚潭水庫 would be "Carp Lake Reservoir". It's one of the the nine reservoirs I have yet to visit.

    About the raft: yes it is old, probably several decades; it is one of about ten or fifteen rafts of different sizes that belong to the local fruit farmers who live next to the south harbour. At the northern harbour there is another set of rafts, again about ten to fifteen. They are all of the same basic design, which is a set of six to twelve hollow plastic pipes sealed at each. Six for the smaller rafts, and twelve for the larger rafts. A series of four iron bars are laid perpendicularly across the length of the pipes with wire used to bind the pipes fast to one another and to each of the four bars. All pipes are curved upward slightly at one end to act as wave-breakers. The raft's central two (or four) pipes are always somewhat shorter than the others to allow for a recess at the rear of the raft through which an outboard motor's propellor can be submerged into the water. The mounts for those things generally look old too, wood and iron. This basic design is common to all of the rafts I've ever seen at all fifteen of the reservoirs I've so far seen, so that makes me conclude that they were all purpose-built by a single company.

    The first time I borrowed a raft was at Wushantou's northern harbour; I asked the elderly gent who owned the fruit farms on the steep slope whether I could borrow one of his rafts to go out and take pictures. He agreed and seemed very pleased about it, but also somewhat amused since I had brought with me my own makeshift paddle (a long bamboo rod with empty five liter water bottles lashed to each end with bungee cords). He laughed at it and gave me his bamboo paddle instead, which was much better since the two paddle-ends themselves were purposely cut plastic panels inserted into the bamboo via a sliced opening at either end and then bound up with chicken wire. At the southern harbour, the bamboo paddles are of the same design which may or may not indicate a common manufacturer, though I suspect that's probably the case given the sheer number of rafts of the same design all over Taiwan.

  5. "...which is a set of six to twelve hollow plastic pipes sealed at each..."

    That should have been "... sealed at each end."

  6. "A series of four iron bars are laid perpendicularly across the length of the pipes with wire used to bind the pipes fast to one another and to each of the four bars."

    Not wire - plastic cords.


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