PAGE, Ariz. (AP) – Four arcs of water unleashed from a dam coursed through the Grand Canyon yesterday in a flood meant to mimic the natural ones that used to nourish the ecosystem by spreading sediment.

More than 300,000 gallons of water per second were released from Lake Powell above the dam near the Arizona-Utah border. That’s enough water to fill the Empire State Building in 20 minutes, said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

“This gives you a glimpse of what nature has been doing for millions of years, cutting through and creating this magnificent canyon,” Kempthorne said after he pulled the lever releasing the water from Glen Canyon Dam, upstream from Grand Canyon National Park.

The water gushed from two of four giant steel tubes in parallel arcs into the Colorado River. By afternoon, water poured from all four tubes, creating a churning pool beneath the sheer, sandstone canyon walls rising hundreds of feet.

The water level in the Grand Canyon rose 2 to 15 feet in some places. After the flood ends Friday, officials hope the water will leave behind sediment and restore sandbars as it goes back to normal.

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