By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Plans to fix the aging dams at Isabella Lake have been years in development, and a final decision on how to accomplish the goal is still months away.
But an important step in the public's participation in the process is happening next week when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service will hold three public hearings to receive comments on the project's draft Environmental Impact Statement.
An array of alternatives to address the seepage, seismic and overtopping issues identified at Isabella Lake's main and auxiliary dams are being explored in order to reduce the risk of dam failure and catastrophic downstream flooding during a significant storm event.
The draft outlines and evaluates the proposed alternatives and their effects on the environment, natural resources and the daily life of affected residents.
The meetings will be held Tuesday at the Odd Fellows Hall in Kernville; Wednesday at the Kern River Valley Senior Center in Lake Isabella; and Thursday at the Kern County Board of Supervisors chambers in Bakersfield. Each meeting will start at 6 p.m.
"These meetings are less about informing the public of the measures to remediate the dam and more about getting public input on the measures we've detailed in the draft EIS," Army Corps spokesman Tyler Stalker said in an email.
"Public comments will be recorded and noted to be addressed in the final EIS document," he continued, "but we won't be looking to address or answer questions in this forum."
The draft Environmental Impact Statement can be reviewed on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District website at www.spk.usace.army.mil. Comments will be accepted through May 7.
All comments received during the comment period will be considered in the preparation of the final EIS, Stalker said. Comment letters received during the public review period along with responses, will be included in the final document.