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Dam's 65-Foot Crack ... Seals Itself

Wanapum Dam now a "non-failure emergency"
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2014 10:28 AM CST

(Newser) – Crisis at least temporarily averted: A massive crack in a dam on Washington state's Columbia River has been downgraded to a "non-failure emergency" after it apparently fixed itself. After divers discovered the 65-foot-long by 2-inch-wide crack last week, officials warned the dam could fail and lowered water levels about three feet a day down to 26 feet, which caused the county to go under a flash flood watch. But the solution worked as planned, reducing pressure on the dam, which allowed the crack to close, NBC News reports. A public utility rep says the spillway on which it was found is now stable, though a permanent repair is still needed.

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An interesting note: Lowering the reservoir exposed areas of shoreline that have been flooded with water since the dam was filled 50 years ago, a county spokesman said. Local residents turned out to walk among the rocks and sandbars—one even brought along a metal detector—and some "very old" bones were found that could be Native American, the Greenfield Reporter notes. They've been turned over to the state's Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, which will work to find a home for the remains. (Read more dam stories.)

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