AES (an international energy company) and the country of Panama decided to build a hydro plant near the town of Gualaca. Gualaca is a small community about 30 minutes from Boquete on a newly paved road. As the project progressed, Sam Taliaferro visited the engineers and even had a chance to go deep inside the tunnels where the generators are located before the reservoir was filled. They had to build a large earthen dam and then cover it with concrete which formed a lake about 750 acres in size with two small rivers, a 14 kilometer tunnel from Fortuna dam, and a canal coming from the Chiriqui river as water sources. Together these water sources bring a great deal of flow to the reservoir each day. So much that the water level of the lake changes less than one meter. Before filling the reservoir, AES engineers cut every tree and removed any other objects that could potentially cause damage to the generators if they were to work their way into the tunnel. When all was ready the lake took only a few weeks to fill, even though the depth of the water was over 130 feet deep near the dam and near the shore it drops off rapidly from 40 to 80 feet.
Sam began negotiating with AES about that time to buy a farm that would give access to the water. Although AES had several projects in Panama, they had not sold any property around any of them and this was a new concept that required lot of approvals through out the organization. They had bought out all the small cattle farms that would make contact with the water. There were a total of about 7 farms and most were large and encompassed a lot of water below the water surface which of course was not usable for our intent. It took about three years of negotiation, but Sam eventually was able to purchase about 5 hectares of property that has about 850 meters of lake frontage, good road access and electricity.
His first efforts were put into making a boat ramp. He was fortunate that there was on old farm road that went into the water at an easy angle, perfect for his needs. Within a few days of work with a backhoe, he was able to put his bass boat into the water for his first day of fishing. The lake has an abundant Sabalo population. Sabalo are a cross between and bass and a trout and give a nice fight. He plans to bring small mouth bass, blue gill and a variety of other fish that should thrive in this environment.
The lake then, became a water sports recreational haven - jet skis, hobby cats, kayaks, canoes, fishing, swimming, wakeboarding, water skiing, and more... are among what people have done in the hidden lake of Chiriqui...
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