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Salinas River no longer flowing naturally, so water will be released from dam

A rare kayak trip down the Salinas River in north San Luis Obispo County

Tribune sports reporter Travis Gibson and outdoor author Brian Milne take a day to kayak the Salinas River in north San Luis Obispo County.
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Tribune sports reporter Travis Gibson and outdoor author Brian Milne take a day to kayak the Salinas River in north San Luis Obispo County.

After exactly six months of the Salinas River’s natural “live stream” flow, officials have confirmed that the river is beginning to go dry.

On Wednesday, the county’s Public Works Department confirmed a dry section of the river at the north end of Atascadero, south of Graves Creek. The dwindling natural river means the county will resume releasing water from Santa Margarita Lake (aka Salinas Reservoir Dam) to maintain a minimum flow in the channel, as directed by a 1973 ruling.

The “live stream” was confirmed on Jan. 6, 2017, officials said. That discovery happened during a very wet winter that pulled California out of “exceptional drought.”

The latest heavy rains and runoff have increased the size and flow of the Salinas River in norther San Luis Obispo County. Here's how it looked Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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