KERNVILLE, Calif. - After a dismal winter for rain Kern County, a wet month of March impacted the Kern River Valley in more ways than one.
The Isabella Dam Remodification Project is set to begin within the next few months, with work to repair portions of the dam expected to begin in early summer 2018.
The rain and snow that arrived in March has increased the levels at the lake, but not to the level that was seen during last year's record rainfall. It's currently below the "restricted pool" level that the Army Corps. of Engineers attempts to cap it at, a level that was reached in 2017.
Floyd Bolton, deputy resident engineer at the dam, estimated the rain increased the elevation of the lake by 5 to 6 feet over the past few weeks.
Meanwhile, the water is good news for businesses that rely on the river. Tom Moore of Sierra South Mountain Sports said the outlook for rafting wasn't great at the end of February, but a "Miracle March" has resulted in a good flow on the upper Kern River and a snow pack that should be able to keep his rafting business going until August, per his estimations.
"The economy of the Kern River Valley really rises and falls with the river, and it really does make a difference," Moore said. He estimates their snow pack for the coming year now sits in the 40-50% range for the year, up substantially from February.