High Desert Memories - A Hometown Journal Commemorating Ridgecrest California
Lake Isabella/Kernville/Kern River
I remember visiting this area when there was no lake. We came often enough to watch homes being relocated and the dam being built. It took a while for the valley to fill up afterward.
It all looked kind of strange at first. I thought at the time how sad!! But now look at it!!! It is a major recreational, camping, fishing and water sports delight!!!
This area is close enough to Ridgecrest that a day trip is very practical and one can water ski, swim, shop, eat a really sumptuous meal at a restaraunt, and rest up all in one place. What a deal!!! More about this area and its facilities here and here.
I remember one year before I graduated from High School that I went to Whiskey Flats Days with Mitch Miller and his family. We managed to have a pretty good time then and it certainly looks like they are still doing that these days. All the pictures you see here were provided by Laura Pappas.
This is the 2003 Whiskey Flats Days celebration. Thanks Laura for providing us with a fine and memorable shot of Kernvilles finest hours.
Concern grows over a leaking dam
KGET-TVMay 02, 2006
The dam at Lake Isabella has become the number-one priority
in the nation, according to Federal Engineers.Posted 5/2/06
Lake Isabella is one of the largest storage reservoirs in the state and is now being watched closely by the U.S Army Corp of Engineers and County Emergency Response Personnel.
The auxiliary dam at the west end of the reservoir is leaking and the rate of seepage has become a major concern.
In fact, Kern County staffers discussed those concerns at a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
So far, experts say the problem is two-fold.
First, water from the lake is seeping out of the dam at higher than normal rates. Then, there's an active fault line that runs beneath the dam, thought to be inactive when the dam was built in the early 1950's, dormant for hundreds of years, yet still a concern.
Kern County Fire Chief Dennis Thompson puts it in perspective and says, "their risk analysis shows that Lake Isabella Dam poses the greatest risk to life and property of any corp structures."
The Corp of Engineers started examining seepage rates at the dam a year-and-a-half ago.
In April, it issued a preliminary assessment, noting that when water levels rise to within 20 feet of the top of the dam, there's more leakage.
And, considering the large population down river from the dam, namely Bakersfield, these trickling troubles have generated an undercurrent of concern.
"While the likelihood of failure is remote, the amount of damage it could cause if it was to fail, makes this dam is rated number one as far as the corp's concerns for expediting studies to mediate the dam," according to Chuck Lackey with Emergency Services.
As an immediate precaution, the Corp of Engineers will lower the water level at sprawling reservoir by about two feet.
Water flows along the Kern will rise substantially by late this week, and even higher by early next week which could cause problems for folks who live along the banks of the river.
People are encouraged to move playground equipment and chase lounges or they could find them floating down the river. And, county officials will be contacting river dwellers to warn them on the activity.
The Army Corp of Engineers is also ramping up its inspections of the dam. They'll be taking daily readings from moisture sensors in and around the dam and making visual inspections each day.
The Emergency Services Personnel are refreshing themselves on the county's flood response plan, tied specifically to Lake Isabella Dam.
Meanwhile, there is no immediate danger of a flooding catastrophe.
But, with an active fault line beneath that dam, county officials admitted Tuesday, people can never know for sure when or if an earthquake might cause the Isabella Dam to fail.
With high flows of water for the next few weeks, the killer Kern River will be more dangerous than ever, so people are advised to stay out and stay alive.