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Carlos Lazo, Army Corps
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ISABELLA LAKE DAM SAFETY MODIFICATION PROJECT FINAL EIS - 2012/10/24 09:00 ISABELLA LAKE DAM SAFETY MODIFICATION PROJECT FINAL EIS
Posted 10/23/2012

Release no. 12-043
Contact
Carlos Lazo 916-557-5158
carlos.j.lazo@usace.army.mil
Corps releases final environmental impact statement for Isabella Dam Study
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service – Sequoia National Forest, has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Study for review and comment.

Completed in 1953, Isabella 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 Reservoir and its dams help reduce flood risk for Bakersfield and the surrounding region, and are a primary water source for water users throughout Kern County. The Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project looks to address seepage, seismic and overtopping risks identified with Isabella Lake’s main and auxiliary dams to reduce the risk of dam failure or catastrophic downstream flooding during a large storm.

The Corps released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project on March 16, 2012. The DEIS was open for public comments until May 22, with the Corps holding a series of public meetings April 17-19. Taking into consideration the public’s comments, the FEIS outlines proposed actions to address known risks at Isabella Lake’s two dams and evaluates those actions’ effects on the environment, natural resources and daily life of affected residents.

The document can be reviewed on the district’s website at http://1.usa.gov/S1RzSb or at the link below.

A copy of the FEIS will be posted to the Federal Register and additional copies will also be available at the Beale Memorial Library and Southwest Branch Library in Bakersfield; at the Ridgecrest Branch Library in Ridgecrest; at the Lake Isabella Public Library in Lake Isabella; and at the U.S. Forest Service offices in Lake Isabella, Porterville and Kernville. Comments will be accepted for a 30-day period, closing Nov. 26, 2012.

The Corps will host three public meetings November 13-15 to discuss the FEIS and solicit comments.

Public Meeting Locations
  1. 6 to 9pm, Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - Odd Fellows Hall, Kernville http://goo.gl/maps/TGRCK

  2. 6 to 9pm, Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - Sr. Center Vets Halls 1 & 2, Lake Isabella http://g.co/maps/jjmv8

  3. 6 to 9pm, Thursday, November 15, 2012 - Rabobank Convention Center, Potato Room, 1001 Truxtun Ave. (at N Street), Bakersfield http://goo.gl/maps/ZGvVS


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ISABELLA LAKE DAM SAFETY MODIFICATION PROJECT FINAL EIS http://1.usa.gov/S1RzSb - 2012/10/24 09:13 ISABELLA LAKE DAM SAFETY MODIFICATION PROJECT FINAL EIS
http://1.usa.gov/S1RzSb [592 page, 20.53 MB PDF File]
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File name: Isabella_Lake_Dam_Safety_Modification_Project_Final_EIS.pdf
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FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL HURDLE COMPLETED ON ISABELLA DAM PROJECT - 2012/10/25 12:03 SOURCE:http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x1526556944/Final-environmental-hurdle-completed-on- Isabella-Dam-project
Wednesday, Oct 24 2012 07:38 PM

FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL HURDLE COMPLETED ON ISABELLA DAM PROJECT
BY STEVEN MAYER Californian staff writer smayer@bakersfield.com

It's another major step in a planning process that has been ongoing since 2006.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week released the final environmental impact statement on its plan to strengthen and expand Isabella Dam -- with significant changes included since the draft EIS was released months ago.

The 60-year-old dam, located on the Kern River about 40 miles upstream from Bakersfield, is leaking, sits on an active earthquake fault and tops the federal government's list of dams urgently in need of repair.

"The release of the final EIS is a very significant milestone," said David Serafini, the technical lead engineer for the Isabella Dam project.

"It means it's out of the study phase and into the development phase."

The publication of the 600-page document follows years of study, community scoping meetings in Kernville and Bakersfield, lengthy comment periods and refinements made to the plan in response to those comments.

In the report, the corps analyzes a wide variety of issues such as seepage, seismic risks associated with an ancient earthquake fault that runs beneath the auxiliary dam, and the need to raise the height of the two dams by 16 feet to contain water from what corps officials have referred to as a possible but exceedingly rare "Noah's flood" event.

The corps also lays out plans to minimize impacts from construction.

"We actually received 435 comments from the public and agencies addressing a wide variety of issues," said Mitch Stewart, the project's environmental lead.

But by far, most comments reflected concerns by residents and businesses in the Kern River Valley about the need to temporarily lower the lake level to facilitate construction, and the impact it will have on recreation, tourism and the local economy, Stewart said.

Lake water quality and air quality in the region were also common concerns.

But refinements made to the plan now include components that directly reduce those impacts. For example:

* Changes to the construction schedule and duration, which will reduce the time needed to lower the lake level and concentrate the work in non-peak tourism months.

* Engineers have figured out a way to use materials excavated during the construction of a much larger spillway for buttresses designed to stabilize the dam. The change negates the need to move hundreds of truckloads of rock and soil from the Southlake area.

* Planners will substitute electrical power on the work site for previously planned diesel generators and other equipment. This includes replacing up to four diesel generators running 24-7 to provide electrical power needed to run a dewatering pump system. The use of electricity where possible is expected to greatly reduce emissions and noise.

Changes will also include the relocation of Borel Canal to the west of its current location.

And highways 155 and 178 must be moved to accommodate the raising of the dam's crest. However, the realignment of Highway 155 has been modified to be closer to the existing roadway and will include a widening of the existing bridge rather than the construction of a new bridge.

The document is now available for public review. A 30-day comment period begins Friday and continues to Nov. 26.

You can review the document at the Beale Memorial and Southwest library branches in Bakersfield, and at U.S. Forest Service offices in Lake Isabella and Kernville. You can also review it online at http://tinyurl.com/9lvwcwc.

The corps will hold 3 public meetings to discuss the final report and solicit comments. The National Environmental Quality Act, which governs and requires public interaction, does not require the corps to respond to comments this late in the process, only to document them.

Meeting details are as follows;

Kernville -- 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 13, Odd Fellows Hall, 50 Tobias St.

Lake Isabella -- 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 14, Kern River Valley Senior Center, 6405 Lake Isabella Blvd.

Bakersfield - 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 15, Rabobank Convention Center, Potato Room, 1001 Truxtun Ave.
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