VIDEO: The “intertie” marks the end of the line for the Kern River but it still has an important role in the law of the river

September 20, 2022
by Lois Henry
Kern River Watermaster Mark Mulkay stands on the intertie west of Bakersfield. The intertie regulates flood water off the river and puts it into the California Aqueduct. Michael Fugitt / SJV Water
Lois Henry

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This is the fourth video in our series explaining how the Kern River operates, who owns it and where its waters go.

In this video, we look at the “intertie,” which marks the end of the river as it meets the California Aqueduct west of Bakersfield.

This highly unassuming looking piece of infrastructure was built to regulate the occasionally massive floods that barrel out of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

And while it hasn’t been used since 2006, the intertie features prominently in ongoing state hearings over whether there’s available water on the Kern River.

Kern River Watermaster Mark Mulkay explains more.



We have a bit more infrastructure to look at on the river. But don’t worry, we will break it down into digestible bits.

  • Upper river – We travel with Kern River Watermaster Mark Mulkay into the mountains above Bakersfield and look at the river from its two forks all the way to the mouth of the Kern River Canyon.
  • Lower river – Several experts, including Kern River Watermaster Mark Mulkay, North Kern Water Storage District General Manager Dave Hampton and Bakersfield Water Resources Manager Art Chianello explain a variety of structures that take water off the river from east to west on the valley floor.
  • Calloway Canal – We’ll take a closer look at this canal as it was the ditch that started the Kern River lawsuit that set the foundation for the law of the river and the basics of California water law.
  • State hearings – We lay out why the state Water Resources Control Board is holding hearings on the Kern River, who’s arguing for which slice of the river’s flows and whether any of this will result in a reborn river through Bakersfield.

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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