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Pipe vents Hyatt Lake pipeline

Since you asked

Please help clear the air on the VERY large pipe coming out of the ground in the mountains near the Greensprings Highway.

It must stand 75 feet high. It's on the left side of the road, past the Emigrant Lake turnoff about 1.5 miles. It must be 8 feet in diameter ' it's so big that I could see it from Interstate 5 on my way down after skiing on Mount Ashland.

To walk to it, you have to park on the side of the road ' not a safe way to find out what's there. So I'm hoping you can help me find out what's up there without risking my life.

' Darrin T., via e-mail

Happy to oblige, Darrin. What you're seeing is a giant air vent, but you underestimated its size quite a bit.

— The 12-foot diameter steel tank rises about 100 feet above the ground, says Dan Meredith, an engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation.

The big pipe vents a pipeline that carries water from Hyatt Lake down to an 18-megawatt hydroelectric plant on Emigrant Lake, about a mile upstream from the slack water in Emigrant Reservoir.

Farmers, ranchers and fruit growers who are members of the Talent Irrigation District use the water in Emigrant Reservoir for their crops.

If there are sudden pressure changes in the pipe, water surges up inside the tank to relieve the pressure.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to . We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.