Canal de la Fontana a tiny bit of Venice in Javea
The Canal de la Fontana runs through the community of Javea and was formally the Rio Gorgos river mouth before it was diverted to the Port area. While the Canal is quite scenic and adds charm for sure to the streets of the city, it also has a practical use as it has been utilised for over five decades to moor small boats. In fact, small boats line the sides of the Canal that has been recently been remodelled. The end result is more space for practical use and more decorative banks and bridges to make it a more pedestrian friendly area.
In 2007 the Canal de Fontana was affected by serious flooding as a result of the October floods, and the end result was that many boats were swept out to the sea. Since then the Canal has been restored to its original shape, and most would argue even better condition due to the completion of the Marina Nou Fontana project.
The private part of the Marina, known as the Nautica of the Canal was first created in 2001 and it is currently managed by Nou Fontana Marina. The National Government manages the section of the Canal that stretches between the sea and the Avenida. The Madrid Government did manage the section that ran from the slipway to the bridge but in April 2009 they handed control of this portion of the Canal over to the Valencia Government.
In 2004 the AEXMAR association was created and it was responsible for managing the public moorings along with the Town Hall. The moorings were privatised in March of 2011 when all 250 members of the association voted to start negotiations with Nou Fontana Marina. The association had hoped to compete with the company but the Town Hall would not financially offer to invest in them and it was hard to get money to modernise together among just the association. Therefore, negotiations began to get the members of the association a discount for mooring with association allowed to use the mooring at cost, which would be approximately ten thousand euros plus a monthly fee that would cover all services.
The Town Hall owns a large portion of land that is situated close to the blind end of the canal and many people in Javea predict that at some point this will be turned into a pool harbour that can be used as a dry dock or for small boats. However, one political party, the Nueva Javea, wants to use the land for a conference centre.
Locally the Canal de la Fontana is often considered a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde canal, because it has dual uses and can be considered both a marina and a spill-way depending on how you view its use and the time in history you look at it. Fontana means spring or fountain in Valenciano, and it was actually not always this deep. In the past the canal was actually a place that was located near the sea where fresh water would often bubble up from the ground. This made it more of a spring that boaters used to replenish their water supplies rather than an actual canal.
Back in Roman times the sweet water from the spring was actually used for a fish processing factory, but now the factory is beside the Parador and the spring has evolved into a much deeper channel that is now a canal. Throughout time the canal has actually been connected to the sea and then blocked again, but most of the time sand prevented it from being a clear channel and entryway into the sea.
After devastating floods hit Javea in 1957 along the port area, plans were made to prevent this happening again in the future. The result in 1960 was an effort to widen the canal to create a large flood relief channel that would direct the river Gorgos away from the port in times of flooding. The finished product was the final connection of the Canal de Fontana to the sea permanently. It was widened and deepened with over 200 metres excavated inland. Three years later the tourism industry took a hard look at the canal and built the Parador, quickly modifying the use of the canal so that it could become the marina it still is today.
This is why the canal can be referred to as Jekyll and Hyde, because it was originally created to be a spillway for flood waters, but at the same time is considered to be a safe place to moor boats which is contradictory by nature. 2007 is perhaps the best illustration of this conundrum as the canal worked as designed to capture the River Gorgos, which burst across the banks and the canal was suddenly overloaded with water.
It did effectively handle the water and push it straight out to the sea and away from Javea. However, it also tore boats away from their moorings and took them out to sea with the massive amount of water. So in this instance, it was a great spillway but not such a safe marina. Before this disaster in 2002 there were talks to extend the channel back along an old water course so that the drainage would be more effective should it need to be used as a spillway. This plan was proposed as the Valencia flood protection plan, but it never came to fruition before the flood occurred. In the last few years the town hall has been talking about perhaps looking again at these measures by creating a canal under the carriageway of the road.
It is hard to call the canal either a marina or a spill-off, but at the moment it has the potential to be both although it is clearly used much more as a marina. One of the reasons for so much confusion is because the canal is managed by so many different groups. As mentioned earlier, the bridge to the sea is managed by Costas in Madrid but mooring concessions have been given to boat hire companies, the Parador, and pedalo companies.
The section that is inland from the bridge is still run by the Valencia Government and the Marina Nou company and the AEXMAR small boat association are in discussions about managing the moors together. With all of this in mind, the Town Hall and National Rivers Authority are still keeping an eye on the canal with interest in managing some of the Canal de la Fontana as well. For the moment the summer brings a lot of anger about too much congestion because boats are moored up and down the canal, but since no one wants to reduce their own moorings the congestion is not likely to change.
One ambitious project that was the brainchild of the Marina Nou Fontana S.L has resulted in making the Canal de la Fontana a very attractive and modern nautical and water sports centre The project was massive and involved the inner nautical port that is directly access via the canal. It involves remodelling all of the facilities that line the canal to make them compatible with the inner port and creating a much more modern and sleek marina.
The Canal de la Fontana measures a total of 800m in length and as a result of the project it will be able to create a new quay line that features over 318 berths. Since congestion is one of the largest concerns about the canal the estuary was completely remodelled as well to help secure the exit and entry of boats in a much easier and smooth fashion. Towards the end of the Canal a dry dock area will also be built with a strong structure to support it with the aim to minimize any damages that would be caused if the canal flooded and had to serve its other purpose as a spillway again.
To help lower the transit walk the Marina Nou Fontana also focused on connecting the banks to each other via transit walkways. They also have looked at the crossing areas that already exist along the canal including the bridges of the Mediterraneo Ave and accounted for them in figuring out where walkways should be created. They also looked at the estuary that already existed in the inner port to create an overall design that would make the entire centre much more fluent both in boat and pedestrian travel.
One of the key concerns of the Marina Nou Fontana project was to urbanise the operation area since the canal actually lines an urbanised zone that is then surrounded by residential areas.
Therefore, the target was to create an urban mooring location that would appeal to tourists, businesses, and the residents who simply want to moor their boats. The El Arenal promenade also factored into this decision.
Several things were taken into account to create the more urban look which included carefully selecting equipment and furniture throughout the area that was urban, sleek, hip, and in line with the natural feel of the area. They also chose to utilise only high quality materials to help accent the canal against the area that was previously deteriorated.
Concluding the project to make it practical and profitable are two new buildings that are home to services that berth users would need along with office space and commercial units. The first building was placed in the dry dock area of the newly built port and is the ideal pace for any nautical business to base their activities. The core of the canal is the perfect location for a nautical business and is situated to be in close proximity to built-in customers.
The second building was placed in the south quay of the Canal de la Fontana and was constructed adjacent to the bridge by the Javea Parador Nacional. It is home to services that the berth users may need as well as facilities that are standard for mooring. In addition, a seamanship office is located in the building. The buildings both feature energy efficient qualities and are built with modern and sleek décor architecture that matches the theme and design of the canal and moorings.
The canal area is now an attractive place to visit and to take an evening stroll, as such it is very popular during the summer months with tourists and locals alike.