If you’ve ever traveled from Zagreb to Rijeka on the A6 highway, you’ll probably have noticed that there are several lakes visible en route.
It’s unlikely that any of the lakes are as impressive as Bajer lake, located in the centre of Fužine, a town in Gorski Kotar. It’s an artificial, accumulation lake, created in the early 1950’s as a part of the hydro-energy system Vinodol, using the water from the area of Gorski Kotar to create electricity. Bajer lake is just one part of the system, along with the Lokvarsko, Lepenica and Potkoš lakes which provide the water for several turbines, located at appropriate locations.
It’s been 12 years since Bajer lake has been emptied, and the time has come for some maintenance work to be done on the concrete structures around it (which are quite close to the centre of Fužine). It took a while for the entirety of the lake to be emptied, but now that work has been completed, and if you find yourself going along the highway or visiting Fužine, you’ll see that the lake is – gone.
The lake is located in the valley that used to be the river valley of the Ličanka valley, and believe it or not, you can still see where the banks of the river that has been gone for 60+ years used to be, now that it’s dried out. The lake is not too deep, 2-7 meters when it’s filled with water, It’s strictly forbidden to walk on the bottom of the lake, as it is still quite wet, gooey and dangerous, but if the temperatures remain this high, it’s imaginable that the soil will get firm enough to be able to walk on it.
The Lynx and Fox tourist guide, who we’ve already recommended if you wanted to go on personalized tour of Gorski Kotar, visited the lake and have allowed us to use the photos they took.
On their Facebook page, Jelena from Lynx and Fox also answered the question I’ve been wondering about since the first time I heard about the emptying of the lake: what happened to all the fish? Bajer lake is a well known fishing location, and there was quite a large population of fish in the lake – and they were moved, as much as they could’ve been to the nearby Lepenica lake, located just a couple of hundred meters away from Bajer.
If only there were videos available of the human relocation of the fish! Lepenica is much bigger and deeper than Bajer, it’s a favourite location for swimming in the summer, and was quite popular for underwater orienteering. Once Bajer lake is up and running (floating?) again, the fish will probably be returned to it again.
Bajer lake will be empty until late July, as the planned re-filling is supposed to start on July 27th. One other amazing fact is that it’s expected that the process of getting the lake back to its usual water content will take two days! Much less than the process of the emptying took… (More photos of the empty lake in the Večernji list gallery)