Le Rec Major à la sortie de l'ancien moulin

Branch of the main stream flowing from the old mill towards the neighbouring village of Rigarda

The Rec Major ( literally speaking «the main stream»), which dates from the end of the thirteenth century ( see the page «history») has indeed given Joch the look of its natural characteristic surroundings.,The main part of the description below is borrowed from a study written by Maurice Julia in July 1987, in the review journal issue N°7 «d’Ille et d’ ailleurs» ( About Ille and there ) titled «Joch, a village, a history». It is a capital reference on the village

The intake of water from the river Lentilla is located about 3.5 kilometres above the village in a spot called «la resclosa» on the territory of the neighbouring village of Finestret. After winding its way for about 2 kilometres along the narrow «gorg de l’ olla» ( gorg of the pot), the canal starts flowing above the Vinça Basin. It flows under the bridge (« bridge of Vallestavia») on the road leading to Vallestavia. This is the area where its flow has been calculated :

The flow of the stream is measured against the abatements of the Vallestavia bridge: 8 feet 4 inches wide, 14 inches high.

Page 28 of N°7 «d’ Ille et d’ailleurs» by Maurice Julia July 1987

Bearing in mind that a «foot» is 3.284 dm and an inch is 0.2707dm (according to the «old regime’s» system), the speed of the current in this area is being estimated at 4.5km/H, the maximum flow is then a little superior than 90 litres a second.

From this spot, the canal dispatches its watering network drop by drop to the plain below. It then stays at the same level while flowing to the higher part of the village, to the street named «carrer de la creu»( street to the cross: leads to the cross at the top of the mountain overlooking Joch).

In the village, its slope steepens until it reaches «el salt» ( the waterfalls), that is to say two successive waterfalls, one being 6 meter high (in the middle of the village) and the other being approximately just below 12 meter high.

Thanks to the stream and the flow of the waterfalls, the Rec Major permitted just until the XXth centry the function of 2 flour mills, an oil mill, a paper factory and a sawmill. After flowing down these waterfalls, the Rec Major splits into three branches: one flowing towards Rigarda, one to Vinça, and the third to Finestret. Each of them discharging one or two «regadores» (the volume of water flowing through a 262mm of diameter hole)!


Until the end of the fifties, the Rec Major was just simply dug into the ground. Maurice Julia looked back on that time with nostalgia …the time when the stream in some places was fast, then deep and slow, so that you could use it as a bathing place in summer.

How many fond memories of bathing in that cool water where the stream would deposit some golden sand! …memories of walks along the shaded banks, of stolen kisses, of poems connected to the words «passallis, casot, palanca, tilla».

by Maurice Julia, from «d’ Ille et d’ ailleurs» , July 1987, page 28

The Rec Major then got cimented in order to limit the leaks due to infiltration, but to the detriment of the banks which became dried up. It actually permits the irrigation of over 500 hectares (1235 acres) of agricultural land. Water is being shared according to a rational and rather complicated calculation for the uninitiated, each month being divided into morning, daily, evening and nightly «flows» . Such a distribution of the available water is planned in advance, compulsory and fair because irrigation is much more profitable at night, so everyone must take turns to be allowed to benefit from it.

Today, the Rec Major water still continues to feed all the fountains across the village. Thanks to this steam , there is water everywhere in Joch !

Text : Gilbert JULIA

Traduction : Thérèse TRABIS-GURRERA