What to do in summer > Sports and leisure > The Educational Trails > Heritage Trails > Historical path in Niouc > Post 8. Irrigation Canals / Bisses

Post 8. Irrigation Canals / Bisses

These irrigation canals were built to irrigate the fields and crops in Niouc around 1908. The town of Saint-Luc hired Italian workers for the task.

Map of Niouc

Follow the bisse for 20 minutes (first part with water, the second part dry) to the wide path that goes down to the village. Then, at the end of the visit, follow the paved road of Irette to return to the parking lot off the main road.


In the past, all owners were allowed to water their plots, twice a month. The schedule provided for fourteen turns divided amongst the landowners each day. Watering was regulated from 5 am to 7 pm, with the watering forbidden at night and Sunday, except for potato fields that require a small amount of water. If water was stolen, the problem was usually settled very quickly and not always in a friendly manner. A flow rate of about 25 litres per second was maintained to develop the irrigation channels.

In 1905, the Consortage of Niouc agreed to grant rights to the water company of the Naviscence. The Municipality of Saint-Luc signed an agreement that established the water rights of the Consortageof Niouc for irrigation and households for a period of 99 years. The water could be drawn from April 15 to September 15 and should not exceed 120 litres per second.

In 1907, the Chippis aluminium plant and the Consortage of Niouc decided to build a water intake on the canal to supply Niouc.

Since 1908, the waters of the Navisence are used by the hydroelectric power station at Chippis for the aluminium plant. This layout, with a water intake at Vissoie and a free flowing gallery, was expanded several times and can now absorb a 8.5 cubic metres a second with a drop of 590 metres.

In 2004, the concession was renewed, and in 2008, a new agreement was established between Gougra SA and the Consortage of Niouc to create a pressurized irrigation system which allowed a reduction of water consumption by more than 50%.

When the hydroelectric power station at Chippis stops the turbine, the return of water in the canal that feeds the irrigation canals through an underground pipe, causes a substantial outpouring at the top of the cliff, near the suspension bridge (see photo).