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BROOKSIDE RESIDENTS RETURN

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About three dozen residents of this tiny southwestern Utah town have returned to their homes after engineers partially drained Baker Reservoir.

The irrigation dam's spillway developed a leak Sunday, forcing the evacuation in the community 15 miles north of St. George.On Monday, the spillway was opened wider, and the level of the reservoir had been lowered by more than 3 feet by nightfall, said Dean Cox, Washington County emergency services director.

The danger has passed for now at the half-mile long, quarter-mile-wide reservoir, he said.

"Ultimately, however, they'll have to drain the reservoir," he said. "I'm sure they'll have engineers come in to pull the overflow structure out and rebuild it.

"It could have been a big deal," Cox added. "But we were lucky that it didn't become one."

Brookside is just below the reservoir on the Santa Clara River. The leak was spotted at the dam about 5 p.m. Sunday.

The reservoir, built in the 1950s, holds 11,000 acre-feet of water. The leak occurred in the concrete-and-rock spillway, not in the earthen portion below, Cox said.

Cox said the cause of the failure wasn't immediately known and that engineers would have to inspect and analyze the structure.