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Isabella Dam can sustain 66 percent capacity during maintenance

Isabella Lake storage is currently at 57 percent of capacity, and the Army Corps of Engineers said the dam cannot exceed 66 percent as it continues to work on the dam.

But with more rain in the forecast, Eyewitness News asked water officials what's going to happen to all the water if the dam reaches that capacity.

The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing water from the Isabella Lake Dam at 1,900 cubic feet per second. Next week, it will be increased to around 2,200, and the Army Corps of Engineers hopes to increase that flow another thousand. They try to stay under certain outflow to avoid road damage.

"We have an outflow we would like to stick to, but because of Highway 178, we don't want to have damage to the road. Four-thousand CFS is probably a good maximum," said Water Master Dana Munn.

Water officials are constantly monitoring inflow and outflow out of the dam. Each month, the Department of Water Resources measures snowpack and monitors the eight sensors placed in the Kern River Basin. With this, they come up with a potential forecast for what runoff will be. The runoff forecast is then put through computer models, which comes up with an outflow for the month.

Currently, there's no irrigation demand, so the water is going to groundwater recharge.

The models are subject to change if more storms develop. For instance, in the beginning of February the models were predicting 200 percent above average precipitation, and they updated to 245 percent above normal, so the outflow will most likely have to be changed, as well.

If the water doesn't go to local recharge basins, it may go to Pyramid Lake for Southern California water usage or downstream into the State Water Project System. If the water is not recharged at all, it can escape by flowing into Tulare Lake or the California Aqueduct Intertie.

"In both cases, we don't want to lose water to the Tulare Lake or the California Aqueduct Intertie. We would like to maximize our demand. But, currently there is no irrigation demand from the rains. But, there is groundwater facilities," said Munn.

To make more room for Kern River water, the water district is looking to come up with some sort of plan to free up room in Isabella Lake for future runoff.

Munn said the Shafter-Wasco Water District is in the process of building another water recharge facility in Shafter to make room for more water.

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