Virgen Dam

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Virgen Dam
Virgen Dam is located in Nicaragua
Virgen Dam
Location of Virgen Dam in Nicaragua
Official name Presa La Virgen
Country Nicaragua
Location El Hato de La Virgen, Matagalpa Department
Coordinates 12°46′24.26″N 86°14′9.21″W / 12.7734056°N 86.2358917°W / 12.7734056; -86.2358917Coordinates: 12°46′24.26″N 86°14′9.21″W / 12.7734056°N 86.2358917°W / 12.7734056; -86.2358917
Purpose Power
Status Operational
Opening date 1972; 45 years ago (1972)
Owner(s) Empresa Nicaragüense de Electricidad (ENEL)
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Embankment
Impounds Viejo River
Creates Lake Virgen
Surface area 6 km2 (2.3 sq mi)
Carlos Fonesca (Santa Barbara) Plant
Coordinates 12°42′54.64″N 86°16′46.41″W / 12.7151778°N 86.2795583°W / 12.7151778; -86.2795583
Commission date 1972
Hydraulic head 187 m (614 ft)
Turbines 2 x 25 MW (34,000 hp) Francis-type
Installed capacity 50 MW (67,000 hp)

The Virgen Dam is an embankment dam on the Viejo River near the town of El Hato de La Virgen in Matagalpa Department, Nicaragua. The primary purpose of the dam is hydroelectric power generation and it supports the 50 MW (67,000 hp) run-of-the-river Carlos Fonesca (Santa Barbara) Plant. The dam and power station were completed in 1972. Water from the dam is diverted along the left bank of the river through a 2.7-kilometre (1.7 mi) long channel before being piped underground over 4.8 km (3.0 mi) to the power plant near Santa Barbara on the Viejo River. The plant contains two 25 megawatts (34,000 hp) Francis turbine-generators.[1] The difference in elevation between the dam and power station affords a hydraulic head (water drop) of 187 metres (614 ft).[2] In 1998 heavy rains and flooding from Hurricane Mitch severely damaged the Mancotal and El Dorado Dams, over-topping their spillways and nearly destroying the dams. The Virgen Dam was destroyed but later rebuilt.[3][4]


  1. ^ "Hydro" (in Spanish). Empresa Nicaragüense de Electricidad (ENEL). Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Nicaragua: Policy Strategy for the Promotion of Renewable Energy: Situation and Perspective of Hydroelectric Generation" (PDF). National Energy Commission, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program. January 2006. p. 75. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Wood, Randall (5 October 2010). Moon Nicaragua. Avalon Travel. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Aquastat - Dams in Nicaragua". UNFAO. Retrieved 29 April 2014.