A river appears in the Kern River bed

January 14, 2023
by Lois Henry
Water snakes beneath the 24th street bridge over the Kern River at Beach Park on Jan. 13. The water is from releases made by the City of Bakersfield for power companies up the river. COURTESY of Don Martin
Lois Henry

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There was water snaking through the Kern River bed through Bakersfield on Friday.

The City of Bakersfield was moving water it was obligated to release down the river for power plants through the riverbed and into Truxtun Lakes, the lake at the Park at Riverwalk and Aera Park, according to Daniel Maldonado, a city water resources planner.

City flows were about 70 cubic feet per second, but Maldonado said that could vary day by day.

Those flows could be augmented in the near future by water from the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District.

The City has a contract to deliver Rosedale-Rio Bravo some water and the agricultural water district anticipates bringing additional water down the river through its Onyx Ranch Project, according to Rosedale-Rio Bravo General Manager Dan Bartel.

Rosedale-Rio Bravo bought the old Onyx ranch on the South Fork of the Kern River above Lake Isabella in 2013.

Last year, it began a pilot project to move water through Lake Isabella and down the river. Other river interests have sued over the project, but Bartel noted in an email that doesn’t stop the project unless a judge orders it to stop.

Overall, Bartel was excited for this winter.

“Snowpack is building faster than 1983 and 2017, this is great news for Kern County citizens,” he wrote. Once repairs on the Friant-Kern Canal are finished in February, he anticipated also getting water from that source as the San Joaquin River watershed will likely have significant amounts of snow.

“Something like a 1000 cfs could be pouring into Kern County,” Bartel wrote.

As of Jan. 13, Lake Isabella had 94,000 acre feet of water, according to the Army Corps of Engineers website. That’s up from a low of abut 38,000 acre feet in November before the storms began rolling in.

Total capacity in Isabella is about 570,000 acre feet now that repairs to the dam have been completed and the Corps is no longer holding its maximum to 360,000 acre feet as it had done over the previous decade.

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


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