Corps releases environmental document discussing Borel Canal at Isabella Lake Dam for public comment

Published Feb. 12, 2016

SACRAMENTO, California – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District released its plan today for the proposed acquisition and decommissioning of the Borel Canal at Isabella Lake Dam in Kern County.

The Borel Canal conduit, which runs directly through the auxiliary dam, has been identified as a significant safety risk due to concern related to seepage and corrosion.

The proposed plan calls for sealing off the conduit in place and ceasing operation of the Borel Hydroelectric Project owned by Southern California Edison. The Corps would also compensate SCE for its interest in the easement and hydroelectric project.

The draft supplemental environmental assessment is a follow-up to the Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project environmental impact statement, completed in 2012, which initially identified plans to reroute the canal.

The draft SEA is available on the project web page at Additionally, public meetings will be held Feb. 22-24, 2016, for interested individuals to learn more about the proposed plan, ask questions of Corps staff and submit comments. Comments will be accepted until March 15, 2016. 

The public meetings will be held:

Feb. 22, 2016; 6-8 p.m.
Kern County Board of Supervisors Chambers
1115 Truxtun Ave
Bakersfield, CA 93301

  Feb. 23, 2016; 6-8 p.m.
Kern Valley Vets Center
6405 Lake Isabella Blvd
Lake Isabella, CA 93240

Feb. 24, 2016; 6-8 p.m.
Kernville Elementary School
13350 Sierra Way
Kernville, CA 93238

To learn more about the authorized dam safety modification project, copies of the Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision are also available on the project web page or by contacting the Sacramento District Public Affairs Office, 1325 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone (916) 557-5100; email:

Completed in 1953, Isabella Lake Dam is located approximately 42 miles northeast of Bakersfield. The reservoir is impounded by two earthen dams on the Kern River and Hot Springs Valley. Today, Isabella Lake and its dams reduce flood risk for Bakersfield and the surrounding region, and is a primary water source for water users throughout Kern County. The Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project will address overtopping, seismic and seepage issues identified with Isabella Lake’s Main and Auxiliary dams to reduce the likelihood of dam failure. In 2013, the Corps entered the pre-construction engineering and design phase of the project. Relocation construction work is scheduled to begin in 2016. Construction of the dam modifications is scheduled to begin in 2017.

Rick Brown

Release no. 16-007