About four years ago AES and the country of Panama decided to build a hydro plant near the town of Jualaca. Jualaca is a small community about 30 minutes from Boquete on a newly paved road. As the project progressed I 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.
I 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 we eventually were able to purchase about 5 hectares of property that has about 850 meters of lake front, good road access and electricity.
Our first efforts were put into making a boat ramp. We were fortunate that there was on old farm road that went into the water at an easy angle, perfect for our needs. Within a few days of work with a backhoe, we were able to put our bass boat into the water for our 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. Our plan is to bring small mouth bass, blue gill and a variety of other fish that should thrive in this environment.
In the last few months we have put in infrastructure of basic roads, electric, water and the construction of a guard house and two beautiful wood cabins. We have paved the entire ramp and parking area in concrete. Our intention is to continue to develop the property into a private area for water recreation such as fishing, water skiing, and boating. The acquisition of this property gives us the only access to the water which in effect makes the lake very private. We have also negotiated the right of first refusal for the purchase of additional property on the lake. Although AES has other farms for sale on the lake, their size and ease of access make it unlikely that they will be sold and developed anytime soon.
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