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Kern County officials, growers concerned about Lake Isabella water levels

Posted at 8:45 AM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 11:45:28-04

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KERO) — Bakersfield and Kern County have been in drought mode since the end of last year with restrictions and cutbacks in place to try and save as much water as possible as we head into the hot summer months.

But water officials and growers are concerned as the flow from the Upper Kern into Lake Isabella now reduces to a trickle in the coming weeks and months.

The driest year on record happened in 2015, a 12% water year, as the lake fell to minimum capacity: 30,000 acre feet. Right now it sits at about 75,000..

This year Mark Mulkay, Kern County Water Master, says the output from the lake is severely cutback on weekends and recharge basins have been built trying to capture more water during wet years.

Tom Moore owner and founder of Sierra South is still taking rafts down the lower kern for now.

He says they've transported about 5,000 people this year.

But it's not the big water that they've enjoyed during the wet years.

They've also transitioned to tubes on the Upper Kern with their eyes always on the sky.

But with little help from the state and federal allocations, the water left in this tiny pool will be stretched to the limit leaving the city and farmers to rely more heavily on their wells.

At maximum capacity Mulkay says the lake will hold nearly 570,000 acre feet of water.

One acre foot is equal to more than 300 thousand gallons of water to supply a family of four for one year.

No water to be released into river through downtown Bakersfield

The City of Bakersfield has no plans to release water into the river through downtown over the 4th of July holiday weekend.

Officials say given the drought conditions it's not possible this year.

It has been a common sight during wet years but not in 2022.