BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it is taking full control of water releases from Isabella Dam to allow repairs on a hydroelectric power plant at the base of the main dam.
The power plant is owned and operated by Isabella Partners who asked the Army Corps of Engineers to close water gates into the plant from Isabella Lake, so the plant can be dewatered.
The dewatering will allow operators to investigate the source of a mechanical vibration within the plant, meaning water releases must be cut back dramatically beginning at around 12 a.m. Thursday.
“The flows will be reduced during the early morning hours down to an outflow of zero, which will allow the operators of the power plant to completely stop the outflow,” Kern River Water Master Mark Mulkay said. “Once that outflow is reached, the Corps of Engineers will open their own outlet structure.”
With the anticipated snowmelt from the local mountains, Mulkay said the lesser outflow of water should not cause problems.
“This is a maintenance issue. It’s not a failure issue or a catastrophic situation. The spillway is not going to be used. It may take us a day or two to catch up,” Mulkay said Tuesday.
Mulkay said it could take up to 12 hours to restore river flows to what they were on Tuesday — about 6,200 cubic feet per second (cfs).
The Army Corps of Engineers and other officials strongly discourage recreational activities in or around the Kern River because currents are expected to significantly fluctuate.