The drought may not be officially over yet, but it's amazing what a difference a few storms have made this year for one important area of our water world: Isabella Lake.


Isabella Lake is fed by the North and South forks of the Kern River, with the North Fork being the main contributor.

In January 2015, Isabella's total inflow was 151 cubic feet per second (CFS), almost exclusively from the North Fork.

In January 2017, total inflow is 1,623 CFS with 1,330 CFS coming from the North Fork.

— Army Corps of Engineers


In January 2015, Isabella Lake held 44,804 acre feet.

As of Jan. 25, 2017, the lake held 207,547 acre feet.

The Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to allow the lake up to 245,000 acre feet. But that could change when manual snow surveys come in Feb. 7 or 8, according to Kern River Water Master Dana Munn.  

The Corps wants to keep Isabella at a maximum 360,000 acre feet because of dam safety concerns. Depending on the manual snow surveys and the forecast for more accumulation and runoff, the Corps could order higher water releases from the lake.

— Kern River Water Master/Army Corps of Engineers


In January 2015, only 151 CFS per day was coming out of Isabella Lake, mainly to feed lower river power plants.

As of Jan. 25, 2017, the corps was releasing 800 CFS per day.

— Army Corps of Engineers

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry. Her column runs Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at, call her at 395-7373 or email



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