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The contemporary containment dams of Apeiranthos, Naxos island, Greece

The philosophy of this technical work was based on the idea of the construction of many successive small-scale dams at selected sites down the length of the torrents, to maximise water absorption. The dams constructed were generally of small height less than 2 - 3 meters. They exceeded this height only in places lacking a clearly formed torrent bed, with only an outflow passing from the basin.

The construction of the dams is based on the system of terraces for the formation of the ground, an approach widely used in the Cyclades, in order to facilitate the cultivation of crops. This technique applied until the 1950s entails the creation of successive horizontal terraces, contained by vertical dry stone or masonry walls. Obviously these terraces appear on slopes of considerable inclination and apart from containing the earth they also retain the rainwater enriching the aquifer in the ground, although this is not their original purpose. During the last decades the traditional cultivation of crops has been abandoned and many of the stone walls have collapsed. However, the building of modern containment dams was inspired by the traditional technique and their construction is very similar in terms of size, form and materials.

The dams constructed are of two types: permeable and impermeable. The permeable dams were built in the areas with limestone rock (also permeable) in order for the ground to be enriched in water as much as possible. These are made of either dry stone wall –with a coronation of non-reinforced concrete in some cases, or a combination of dry stone wall and masonry, with intermediate zones and a coronation of non-reinforced concrete.

In regions of schist formations, which are impermeable rocks, the construction of impermeable dams was decided. These are made of impermeable masonry. In some cases, terrene dams were constructed downstream from the impermeable masonry dams. These were created with the earthy materials produced from the foundation of the masonry dams. Upstream from the masonry dams, in some cases, protective dry stone walls were formed in order to contain the sedimentation materials.

All of the dams are arc-shaped with their chords facing downstream. Another important parameter of this technical work is the selection of the spots where the dams were constructed. They were built along the torrents, in places before the connection of two torrents of the same type and before the exit of a torrent from its respective basin. In addition, the narrowest passes of the torrent branches were preferred, while the procedure of the construction begun from the highest point downwards, in order to avoid the rapid sedimentation produced by the uncontrolled flow.

All of the dams constructed are blend harmoniously with the natural environment, as well as with the traditional architecture of the region. The size, type and materials of the dams correspond to the characteristics of the terraces created in earlier years for cultivation, and with the masonry walls used to separate properties. No alteration of the natural ground morphology or the already existing traditional constructions has occurred.