Efforts increase at Isabella Lake dam; crews releasing more water in preperation for coming storm

Posted at 8:00 PM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-13 23:03:03-05

Julie Martinez has an important job, especially in light of the chaos in Oroville.

"We're paid to be concerned about that sort of thing," Martinez, the resident engineer on the upcoming Isabella Lake dam construction project said. "That's why we're up here."

"For the Army Corps of Engineers, it's the number one dam for potential problem in the country," Martinez said.

The auxiliary dam of Isabella Lake is partially leaking underneath due to material that the dam was built from. The emergency spillway, which is connected to the main dam, is relatively small.

Both of these issues and others are set to be remedied during the upcoming constructions project, which will begin later this year and last an estimated 3 to 4 years.

For now, staff on the dam just have to keep an eye on water levels of the lake. They collect numbers daily and relay them to the water master in Bakersfield and the water management board in Sacramento. They release water into the Kern River to relieve pressure on the dam and to keep the level in check.

They specifically keep an eye on elevation of the water; if it reaches roughly 2589 feet, the Army Corps. steps in and can pressure the water master to release more water. As of Monday morning, the lake was at 2580.