Eugène Bidaut

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Eugène Bidaut

Jean Guillaume Eugène Bidaut (born August 6, 1808 in Liège , † May 19, 1868 in Brussels ) was a Belgian mining engineer and general secretary in the Ministry of Public Works .

Live and act

Bidaut was the son of the French army rider Jean-Claude Bidaut (1777-1856) and Anne-Marie Melchior from Liège. He studied at the École des Mines (mining school), which had been newly established at the University of Liège . After graduating, he was appointed civil servant engineer for bridge and road construction in the administration of the Belgian government and was appointed first class engineer in 1842, and from 1858 appointed as general secretary in the then Ministry of Public Works.

One of his priorities was the exploration of iron ore deposits in the Kempen region and in the province of Hainaut . His life's work, however, was the planning of the water supply for Eupen and Verviers in the Weser valley in order to ensure a steady supply for the local cloth industry, which was flourishing there at that time . Although the Weser and its tributaries carried enough water with them after every heavy rain and after every snowmelt, the large-scale drainage of the neighboring forests and the introduction of forest cultures sometimes led to drying out in the intermediate phases and, as a result, to pollution of the brooks, which made them unusable both for the cloth industry in particular and for the population in general.

In 1857, Bidaut received the order from the city of Verviers to sound out the construction of a dam in the catchment area of ​​the Gileppe Bach, a tributary of the Weser, on Belgian territory. The first results of his investigations in a final report from 1866 showed that the actually expected measured water quantities did not correspond to the desired volume. Thereupon he examined the geographical and geological conditions in the area of ​​the upper reaches of the Weser and Getzbach in the then Prussian district of Eupen , in order to realize the "cross-border" Weser dam there. This area seemed more suitable, but the construction was put on record by the Prussian government, since in the event of a dam breach, around 3000 residents of the Haas district of Eupen five kilometers below the planned wall would have been at risk. As a result, the construction of the Gileppe Dam was implemented according to Bidaut's plans with a volume of 13 million m³ on an area of ​​86 ha, which, however, initially had a water level 15 meters lower than the current version. In his plans, Bidaut used a gravity dam , which is the oldest concrete dam in Europe. However, he did not live to see the dam being completed, as construction began in 1867 and could be completed in 1878. A monument at the foot of the dam from 1869 commemorates the planner of the Bidaut dam. The Weser dam, which he planned as an alternative, was built from 1936 onwards and according to the latest specifications.

Bidaut was a member of various commissions and institutions as well as several scientific associations. Several times he was highly decorated for his services, including the Order of Leopold in the officer class, with the Order of Charles III. in the commanding class (1861) and with the Order of the Oak Crown in the class of a grand officer and with the life-saving medal in gold for the rescue of eleven wounded in a mining accident in Seraing .

Eugène Bidaut was married to Angelique Royer since 1842, with whom he had the daughter Marie (1843-1904).

Fonts (selection)

  • Mines de Houille de L'Arrondissement de Charleroi , 1845


Heinz Warny: Engineer Eugène Bidaut directed the construction of the Gileppe dam . In: Lebensbilder aus Ostbelgien , Volume 2, Grenz-Echo Verlag, Eupen 2019, pp. 23–24 ISBN 978-3-86712-146-0

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