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El Atazar Dam

El Atazar Dam is an arch dam built near Madrid, Spain on the Lozoya River, very close to where the Lozoya joins the Jarama. It is the oldest dome dam in the world. The curved design of the dam is optimum for the narrow gorge in which it was built to retain water in the reservoir. Arch dams are thin and require less material to construct than other dam types.[1]

El Atazar Reservoir
Location Community of Madrid
Coordinates 40°54′36″N 3°28′23″W / 40.91°N 3.47306°W / 40.91; -3.47306Coordinates: 40°54′36″N 3°28′23″W / 40.91°N 3.47306°W / 40.91; -3.47306
Lake type reservoir
Primary inflows Lozoya River
Primary outflows Lozoya River
Basin countries Spain
Surface area 10.7 km²
Water volume 426 hm³ (1.50×1010 cu ft)

When the dam was built, the decision was made to use the dam to store and regulate water only and not to provide energy. Construction started on the dam in 1968 and finished in 1972.



The dam is 440 feet (134 m) high and 171.6 feet (52.3 m) wide at the foundation. The reservoir capacity is 344,000 acre-feet (424,000,000 m³). It is a double curvature concrete arch buttress design.[2]


Monitoring of the dam revealed abnormal movement. Although dams normally move, the left side of the El Atazar Dam was moving more than the right because a support built on the dam's right made that side less flexible. In 1977 a crack was noticed in the dam. By 1979 the crack had grown to 150 feet (46 m) and was repaired. Inspection in 1983 revealed that the settling in the foundations and the movements of the dam had caused fracturing in the rock, resulting in significantly increasing the foundation's permeability. The crack has been treated and since then the problems have abated.[3]



  1. ^ "Dam basics". PBS. Retrieved 2006-12-31.  
  2. ^ "El Atazar Background". Retrieved 2006-12-31.  
  3. ^ "El Atazar Problem". Retrieved 2006-12-31.  

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