Isabella Lake is facing higher level than its seen in years, causing concerns about the dam's safety

Army Corps says it's confident in Isabella Dam
Posted at 6:06 PM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 14:03:11-04

Isabella Lake is higher than it's been in years and is nearing the restricted pool amount put in place by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

That high level is raising concerns for local residents about whether or not Isabella Dam can hold up. 

At the mouth of the Isabella Dam water is flowing out with force at more than 5,400 cubic feet per second. 

"It's awesome and it's an impressive spectacle," said John Ream. 

Ream lives in Lake Isabella and is part of the Dam Task Force, a group of local citizens who keep a close eye on how local and state officials are handling the Isabella Dam Construction Project. 

"We oversee that process to see that no harm is done," said Ream. 

He said even though the water is high in the lake and the outflow is rampant, he's not concerned. 

"You don't have to worry because we pay people to do that."

Some of those "people" are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who determine how much water Lake Isabella can hold to keep the dam safe. 

The restricted pool number is 361,250 acre feet. 

Tuesday the lake was at nearly 357,000 acre feet. 

“At this point, our models are showing that we don’t expect it to reach that level," said Tyler Stalker the Deputy Chief of Public Affairs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District.

Stalker said the Army Corps has recently agreed to allow the water to rise above that restricted pool level, but only for a short period of time. 

However, he said in the coming weeks officials actually expect the water level to decrease. 

"Even though the temperatures are rising, we think we’ve seen kind of the peak of our snow melt season.”

As for the outflow from the lake which was at more that 5,400 cubic feet per second Tuesday, it's not likely to increase any more than that because officials said they want to protect the riverbank's infrastructure. 

“We don’t want to cause any erosion or damaging flows down the downstream river areas and down into Bakersfield," said Stalker. 

Even though the lake remains higher than it has been in years and the outflow is bursting, the Army Corps of Engineers said Isabella Dam is working as it should. 

"Under its current operation we are confident that it's able to meet its needs," said Stalker. 

Stalker said although they're confident they can't guarantee anything. He said it's important for every family to have an evacuation plan in place. 

For more information on the county's emergency plan for Isabella Lake click here.