BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — 23ABC is taking a closer look at how much water levels have changed in Kern County over the last few years.
The California Department of Water Resources monitors the Full Natural Flow (FNF) from Lake Isabella. That's rain, snowmelt, and any groundwater that makes it to the river.
Full natural flow at DWR forecast points on selected California rivers shown as a percent of average to date. Data as of midnight June 16, 2021
In 2017, the river had a level of 167. That dropped to 33 the next year. It rebounded in 2019 and then dropped once again last year to 20.
Because it's been so dry this last year a lot of the snowmelt was absorbed into the ground and never made it to the river.
Water Year 2020 was California’s 13th driest based on statewide precipitation and 5th driest based on statewide runoff. It is likely that the present water year will end up being drier, possibly coming in at second driest for runoff (behind 1977) for some parts of the state. Present very dry and warm conditions increase the risk of a dry 2022 because of moisture deficit in the hydrologic system, including depleted soil moisture. Above-average precipitation would be needed to achieve average runoff.
The reading for this year is registering as an 8 - the lowest since 2014. That's when Kern County had the last drought.