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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers scheduled to inspect Lake Isabella Dam

The inspection process involves stopping the water from flowing out of the reservoir in order to inspect the pipe that leads Isabella downstream.
kern river
Posted at 10:05 PM, Jun 26, 2023

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that they will pause water releases from Isabella Dam on Tuesday to conduct a routine inspection of the pipe that runs the water from the dam downstream. The maintenance is crucial this year due to this year's increase in reservoir inflows.

For safety reasons, Kern River Water Master Mark Mulkay strongly recommends that people do not take part in activities in the river.

"It's going to be dangerous with water going down and then turning around and coming back up again. It's going to be a real hazard, so people need to stay out of that river," said Mulkay, speaking of the Kern.

Starting on Tuesday, June 27 at 1:00 am, the Corps says dam operators will gradually reduce water releases from Lake Isabella until the flow completely stops. That will allow inspections to begin.

Mulkay says once the inspection is complete, which he estimates will take 8 hours or less, the outflow of the lake will be gradually returned to a flow rate of about 5.300 cubic feet per second.

"Take a look at what's going on in there, try to reconnoiter, see if there's any major problems or damage or anything like that that's gone on inside the tunnel," said Mulkay, explaining what the dam inspectors intend to do.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the entire process, slowing the flow, performing the inspection, and starting the water through again, should take approximately 24 hours altogether, and will also add about 8,000 acre-feet of water to the reservoir's storage capacity.

During the inspection, Joe Conroy with the City of Bakersfield says residents should reduce their water usage during the inspection time in order to ensure the city maintains adequate supply.

"Reduce any nonessential water usage. Don't water your lawn for the next 3 days and don't wash your cars. Don't be spraying things off your yard or your concrete. Be even more cognizant of it over the next few days, just to make sure we don't use too much water or more than you need to," advised Conroy.

Conroy says the city encourages residents to turn off their irrigation and sprinkler systems, and only use as much water as they need for bathing, cooking, and drinking during the 3-day period.

Conroy adds that in addition to residential efforts, the city's Recreation and Parks Department will also stop its irrigation schedules.

"It's one of the largest overnight water customers both for ourselves and for some of the other water purveyors in the area. They're going to stop their nighttime watering for the next 3 days as well, and also close the spray parks Tuesday and Wednesday," said Conroy.

The City of Bakersfield is also offering rebates and conservation kits for residents to help promote water conservation, both now and in the future. For more information about the rebates and kits, please visit the City of Bakersfield's Water Resources webpage.


The City of Bakersfield is recommending that residents conserve water over the coming days, and there are several simple ways that everyone can pitch in right from their own homes.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a few things include using the toilet for toilet things only, not as a trash bin, and turning off the faucet instead of letting it run while you're shaving or brushing your teeth.

You can also capture and reuse water. You may not be able to drink that water you boiled hot dogs in, but your houseplants will love it.

Another tip is to rethink your water-using processes and see if the water is necessary. For example, instead of using hot water to thaw frozen food, thaw food in your microwave or in the refrigerator overnight.

Finally, don't forget the role that proper maintenance can play in saving you both water and money. Repair any leaks you find right away because water goes fast. A leaky toilet, for example, can waste up to 200 gallons of water during every day it goes unmaintained.