Stunning Californian ‘glory hole’ opens up


A brave duck has become an unwitting social media star after taking on a famous drain in the Lake Berryessa reservoir in northern California.

The 22-metre-wide, 75-metre-long drain acts as an unconventional spillway designed to funnel away water after unusually big downpours in the area. Affectionately known to locals as the “glory hole”, it creates a stunning visual image when water levels rise, as if someone has pulled the plug out of the basin.

While rarely needed, the heavy rain in northern California in recent weeks has required the spillway to do its thing and even drawn tourists to the site to witness it in action.

One onlooker was filming the spillway when a duck got pulled into the watery vortex recently.

The video has racked up more than 138,000 views after being posted to Facebook last week. According to the post, the duck is thought to have survived the close call.

The video was reportedly captured by Rick Fowler, a water resources technician with the Solano County Water Agency, local ABC 10 news reported.

“It shot out of there like a bullet,” Mr Fowler said of the duck. “It flew through the turbulence and came out of the water shaking water like it didn’t know what had happened.”

However, a local irrigation expert expressed serious doubt about whether the duck would have survived, saying the water velocity “would have torn it in pieces”.

Usually the drain sits well above the surface of the water and is sometimes used by skateboarders. But when it’s used for its intended purpose, the drain creates a spectacular scene.

The spillway drops more than 60 metres down and routes excess water from the lake down a two-metre-wide pipe.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, only one person has been swept into the hole.

In 1997, the body of a 41-year-old woman, Emily Schwalek, was found three hours after vanishing down the spillway.

The woman dropped out of sight after gripping the edge of the hole for about 20 minutes, witnesses reported at the time.

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