North-East Estonia with its quarries and history of industry provides the unique background for Aidu Watersports Centre. The excavators that rumbled in the past below what is now the water’s surface make this place more impressive than a simple but beautiful waterhole.
Aidu quarry is an open pit mine in Ida-Viru County which opened in 1974. Villages in Aidu were inhabited before the establishment of the oil shale mine, with the earliest records of human habitation in the Aidu area dating back as far as 1241. The villages of Aidu, Aidu-Nõmme and Aidu-Liiva disappeared during the establishment of the quarry and over 200 families were forced to leave their homes.
The dig site area of the quarry was around 25 km2 and its oil shale output reached up to about 2.4 million tons a year. About 90 million tons of oil shale was mined from the quarry.
Mining operations in Aidu ended in 2012 due to the exhaustion of its natural resources. Eesti Energia Kaevandused AS carried out the tidying-up operations in the mine to close the quarry and make it safe. The ground was made level, trees were planted and a rowing channel was established in the course of these operations. When the quarry was closed and pumping stopped, the exit roads at the south end of the quarry filled with water and a unique artificial water body or side channel system was created. The oldest parts of the quarry have been restored as farm and forest land.
The idea of turning artificial mining landscapes into active recreational sites has been a topic of discussion since 2000. The local municipality worked with Eesti Energia Kaevandused AS, the Estonian Rowing Association, the Estonian Olympic Committee and other parties to develop the idea.
In December 2009, all interested parties signed a memorandum of intent in the Estonian Olympic Committee in order to develop the area. The “Aidu rowing channel and watersports and recreational centre development plan” was completed in 2010. A thematic plan for the area was established in 2011, after which the then Maidla municipality, the Estonian Olympic Committee, the Estonian Rowing Association, the Estonian Canoeing Federation and the Estonian Powerboat Union founded the Aidu Watersports Centre with the aim of creating a modern water sports and recreational centre.