As part of the development of mining, some of the mountain rivers and streams have been dammed or slowed in order to make use of water power since the Middle Ages. Old names such as “Floßgraben” – referring to a log-driving canal – remind us that these watercourses once transported the universally needed wood. Later, large dams were created. They supply the required drinking water for a large part of the south-west area of Saxony. The largest dams and reservoirs are the Eibenstock dam in Oberlauf, which impounds the waters of the Zwickau Mulde with a capacity of 77 million cubic metres, the Saidenbach dam with a capacity of over 22 million cubic metres, the Rauschenbach dam with a capacity of 15 million cubic metres, and the Lichtenberg dam, which holds over 14 million cubic metres. The reservoirs are important breeding and migration stopover sites for birds. Particularly well-structured banks and shores, such as those on the Eibenstock dam, provide breeding grounds for little grebes, teals and other types of bird.
Apart from the dam reservoirs and the ponds originally created for the mining industry by slowing water, there are few pools in the mountain region. Some of the most enchanting are those known as the Schön-berger Teiche at the southern tip of the Elstergebirge (Elster Mountains). Formed of the Großer Teich, the Sapperteich, the Neuer Tiefer Teich and the Ziegelteich, these pools possess a remarkable diversity of water and reed-bed plants due to their location’s favourable climate. Included among these are yellow flag, shoreweed, bogbean and two varieties of bur-reed. If you are lucky, you might spot a greenback frog – or hear its loud, nightly mating calls in May and June. The species has migrated to the area from the Egertal valley. In addition to this, the pools are spawning waters for grass frogs, common toads and a variety of amphibians. In summer, a wide range of jewel-coloured dragonflies can be seen flitting through the air.
Author: Brockhaus, Thomas (1997): “Der Naturpark als Wasserspeicher” IN: Unser Naturpark Erzgebirge / Vogtland, Dresden