GB No. 4, spring 1991


The first Polish National Park was founded in the Pieniny mountains because of their unique beauty, imposing character (though small), and the wild wide and winding river Dunajec. The area is exceptionally rich in natural treasures and historical monuments. There are six endemics and many rare plants, and human traces from the Paleolithic period are to be found here.

In the early years of the 20th century a small dam was planned here for the first time. These plans were often abandoned not only because of costs but also because the planners understood the unstable nature of Pienin, which doesn't have a solid base layer, but rather consists of flish, conglomerates and layers of loam and limestone. In 1968 the latest decision to build a huge dam to create a huge lake was made. During construction, plans for the lake and the dam were changed at least three times (at this time a smaller lake is planned, with a differently shaped dam constructed with different materials). Perhaps these changes were made because they thought their plans might cause a geological catastrophe. To strengthen the rocks they have introduced a lot of cement to the rock walls. This cement has been found on the other side of the mountains by local inhabitants.

The planned lake borders Pienin National Park. It is hard to foresee the consequences of this "cementization", but it will surely result in the destruction of the plants in Pienin, which cannot live on cement. We know that the climate will be wetter, and this climate will kill endimites - it will leave a trail of destruction. Not only nature will be destroyed. Many archeological sites will be submerged: Paleolithic and Neolithic sites, traces of medieval roads, the castles Czorsztyn and Niedzica and two others as yet unexcavated, traces of sixteenth-century buildings and remains of mines from the same time. The same fate awaits an 18th century church in Maniowy and manor house in Czorsztyn, the 19th century Czorsztynian country houses, the mid-19th century manor house planned by the famous architect Felix KsięĽarski, the only remaining shepherd's manor. The ruins of the village of Maniowy, which include well-known stone cellars with wooden storehouses, are doomed as well. These cellars are unique in Poland.

In preparation for the future dam/artifical lake, constructors cut alder forests with unusually thick trunks (perhaps even the thickest in Europe), trees from the so-called Green Rocks reserve and also from the 19th Century Naturalistic park praised in literature for its specialness.

The price for this destruction was exacted by the loss of natural resources and culture, and also the pain of the people, who had to leave their villages, breaking their strong cultural ties, ancient customs and economic activity. The peasants were deprived of their property and displaced to a crowded and ugly village. The conditions were not suitable for farming and hostile to their habits and customs. Simply, their new houses could notfunction as farm houses or tourist homes, etc. Now the government is promising increased tourist business. The lake is supposed to be converted into a recreational area, with facilities for boats, fishing, swimming, and also as a source of clean drinking water. The lake is also supposed to provide electical energy (at most 89 mG). The lake's watershed is full of villages and houses without sewage disposal systems or water treatment plants. The peasants agreed to the dam project because they were promised water treatment plants. The work is now underway, but will not encompass the entire village. In fact, it is impossible for the lake to fulfill all of the functions that the government promises it will. The amount of energy to be produced is not even proportional to the existing need. From a broader perspective, even if the dam project will not cause catastrophic geographical changes, it will cause the following consequences:

  1. Storms will cause silt build-up in the lake. After about thirty years, the lake will not be healthy and will smell;
  2. The dam will reduce the amount of water in the river Dunajec, thus destroying the already-existing tourist attraction of swimming in this extrememly beautiful river; and
  3. The dam project guarantees 100 year use of the lake. After this time, the remains will be only be a dead lake.

The government argues that the dam is almost finished and therefore should be finished. This is their stongest argument against our protests. We ask for help in our protest against this senseless dam.

Barbara Tondos
Jagiellońska 48/64
35-020 Rzeszów

ZB 4/91
translation Jim Forrester

GB No. 4, spring 1991 | Contents