Water returns to American River channel decades after dam halted | SierraSun.com

Water returns to American River channel decades after dam halted

AUBURN, Calif. (AP) “- Water is flowing again down the natural stream bed of the American River near Auburn for the first time since plans to build a dam in the canyon were sidetracked decades ago.

Restoring the natural flow is beginning slowly this week to prevent too much muddy water from flowing suddenly into Folsom Lake downstream near Sacramento.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is sending river water away from a diversion tunnel built in the 1970s while the dam was under construction.

Mike Finnegan, the bureau’s Central California area manager, said Tuesday that construction equipment is slowly removing an earthen cofferdam, letting an increasing volume of water flow into the old river channel. At the same time, crews are moving earth and rock over the half-mile-long tunnel’s inlet and outlet.

“It’s a significant event for a lot of reasons,” Finnegan said. “It’s been close to 40 years, give or take a flood or two, since it flowed on the surface.”

Work on the dam stopped because of fears of an earthquake and never restarted.

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