For almost 30 years we have gone back and forth about the drought not allowing Kern County residents to water lawns, wash cars, or even bathe the way we used to. But now, with heavy storms pummeling the area for weeks, the problem has reversed to where people are worried about being flooded out.

In this report, KNZR will take a deep look at water and let you know what we have, and where we are going. How effective is the Lake Isabella dam? How full are the aquifers?

As snow and rain continue to fall, Kern County residents are asking two questions: One, Is the drought over? And number two, can the dam at Lake Isabella hold back all of the water from the rain combined with the snow melt now that spring is here, without breaking?

To answer to the second question, the condition of the dam, Mike Ruthford, the Lead Engineer of the Dam Safety Project Center says the Dam is in pretty good shape now that a substantial amount of work has been done over the last 5 years to make it taller, and to strengthen it.

He says the main concerns were improving drains and making sure it is strong enough to withstand earthquakes. 

Ruthford says Lake Isabella can currently hold 568 thousand acre feet of water, and with the recent rain and snow, it is just 200 thousand feet short of that, since we have had 325% more rainfall than normal so far for the year. 

There is also a plan in place to insure even with the above average rain and snow melt, we need not worry about our homes or downtown being flooded if the lake overflows.

But is the drought over? It will be up to local and state water regulatory agencies to allocate the water and decide if the drought has ended or not.

Current thinking is, it could take two or three more years of excessive rain and snow like we are having now before the drought is truly a thing of the past.

Tony Lee