(Photo: Valley Ag Voice)

Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice 

This morning, Kern River flows were cut to zero after reports of a strange noise echoing from the outlet tunnel near Lake Isabella. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the gradual reduction in a press release on June 26, specifying that the outflow would remain decreased until 7 a.m. Tuesday morning for a “routine inspection.”  

Kern River Watermaster Mark Mulkay told SJV Water that the outlet tunnel closed due to the emergence of “funny noises” which were thought to be debris. Despite the outflow reduction, this year’s high velocity for runoff resulted in above average levels for Lake Isabella.  


With consistently high levels of snowmelt throughout the Central Valley, several state entities have shifted focus to groundwater recharge efforts. In Kern County, the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District recharged over 123,000 acre-feet this year, the Bakersfield Californian reported

On June 20, Westlands Water District released data of various on-farm recharge projects to aid landowners in refilling and replenishing surrounding aquifers. Three programs in particular target percolation basins, flood irrigation, sublateral recharge, and dry well injection.  

According to the release, recharge efforts in May resulted in 24,000 acre-feet of stored water—the district aims to store over 200,000 acre-feet by the end of the water year. Recharge projects elevated groundwater levels in the Lower Aquifer at an increase of 40 feet compared to the average groundwater in 2022 according to the Westlands Water District. 

Efforts by the Westlands Water District to restore groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley will continue with a $35 million grant from the California Department of Conservation as part of the Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program. The program aims to repurpose agricultural land by reducing reliance on groundwater. 

“We recognize the next drought is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ and it is critical we use extra water to prepare for future years when water may be sparse,” Allison Febbo, general manager at the Westlands Water District said in a press release. “The district’s groundwater recharge efforts will help ensure we meet our Groundwater Sustainability Plan objectives while allowing our farmers the opportunity to save water and plan next year’s crop.” 

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