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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bringing in a specialist to inspect the Garrison Dam after some quirky water patterns on the spillway.

Linda Phelps, the natural resources manager for the dam, said  some of the water didn’t flow straight down as it should have when the gates were opened Wednesday, but was instead diverted to the side.

“We have an engineer coming in from Seattle who’s going to look at it and say, ‘Yeah, it’s not a big deal,’ or ‘Maybe we should fix this first,’” Phelps said.

The corps opened 10 gates Thursday so the specialist could observe the water pattern. The plan is let either 25,000 cubic feet per second or 30,000 cfs go down the spillway’s apron.

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Phelps said the flow may be stopped briefly so the spillway can be walked and the gates examined.

The problem might be due to manhole covers that provide entrance to dam monitoring devices beneath the surface. Phelps said those have been welded down, but engineers and the specialist plan to walk the spillway later to make a final assessment.

“There’s nothing earth-shattering here. The dam isn’t breaking, they just want to be sure before they open all the gates,” she said of the 28 gates.

“They’ve never been used before this, so we just want to make sure everything is right out there. It’s precautionary,” Phelps said.

(Reach reporter Rebecca Beitsch at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or rebecca.beitsch@bismarcktribune.com.)

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