Friday, July 2, 1999 Published at 00:13 GMT 01:13 UK
Dam bust for the environment
The waters will not be held back any longer
Construction workers have begun the demolition of a 162-year-old dam under a federal order to protect the environment.
Church bells tolled and hundreds of people applauded as the first torrent of water burst through.
The Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River, in Augusta, Maine, has been hailed by environmentalists as the first dam in the country to be breached against the owner's wishes.
"This is the beginning of a new chapter in river fisheries management," said US Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt from a cliff along the edge of the river.
"This has fixated the attention of river communities across the nation," he said.
The dam is about 40 miles from the sea.
Congress passed a law in 1986 requiring the balancing of the needs of power generation and environmental protection when hydroelectric dams are licensed