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USACE announces adjustments to Isabella Dam water release

Kern County Fire Department Andrew Freeborn APRIL 25, 2023–

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers(USACE) Sacramento District began the process early Thursday morning, April 27th, to take full control of water releases from Isabella Lake as temperatures heat up.

Beginning at approximately 12 a.m. on April 24, operators began a phased process to briefly stop the release of water from Isabella Lake into Isabella Partners’ hydropower plant at the foot of the main dam. Once releases have stopped, power plant operators will drain the conduit and fully open the plant’s gates. Then dam operators will begin releasing water again, gradually increasing the outflow to the current target of approximately 6,200 cubic feet of water per second.

This flood risk reduction measure will enable USACE to fully control the rate at which controlled water releases enter the Kern River ahead of increased temperatures and reservoir inflows due to snowmelt runoff. Currently, the hydropower plant controls that rate.

It will take approximately six hours to stop flows through the hydropower plant, with releases expected to be reduced by 1,000 cfs each hour. After power plant operators evacuate the conduit and fully open the hydropower plant gates, USACE will restart releases at 500 cfs and will increase outflow by 500 cfs per hour for about 12 hours, or until the release reaches the target outflow.

USACE strongly discourages activities in or around downstream waterways because currents are expected to fluctuate significantly, increasing danger for anyone in the water or along banks.

USACE continues to coordinate controlled water releases with local and state agencies to add flood control space in our reservoirs and to help reduce the impacts of snowmelt runoff or potential future precipitation. Our number one priority continues to be the life, health, and safety of the public.

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Kern County Emergency Plans: