When the Zürcher Elektrizitätswerke showed an interest in the valley basin after the war and met with resistance from some of the 24 families that lived there, the city of Zurich left nothing to chance. Just a few years earlier at Rheinwald, from 1940-1944, the inhabitants of a different Graubünden mountain village had proven themselves perfectly able to fight off a proposed reservoir project. No one wanted to go through another such debacle. So in 1948 Dr W. Pfister, the secretary of industrial operations of the city of Zurich, was dispatched to negotiate with the individual families for the sale of their properties.
The group opposing the dam, centred around Nicolin Dora-Widmer, found that the negotiator had acted unfairly, playing the families off against one another. His behaviour was all the more dubious as some of the villagers spoke only Italian or Romansh, and no German. The farmers, who had for a long time been living on the edge of poverty, were offered sums that, at the time, were higher than the fair market value of their land, on condition that they voted “yes” for the concession. And the pressure was ratcheted up by warnings that if the vote was “no” and there was any subsequent compulsory purchase, the compensation amount would be lower.
Others, such as the then president of the municipality, Florin Luzio-Ruinelli, saw the economic advantages for the individual families and for the municipality itself, which was encumbered with debts and to which, due to the enactment of the Graubünden hydropower law in 1906, all revenue from hydropower utilisation would go if the offer were to be accepted.