This article by Ian James, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, was published in the Los Angeles Times December 9, 2021.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern River cascades from the Sierra Nevada in a steep-sided canyon, coursing through granite boulders, and flows to the northeast side of Bakersfield. There, beside cottonwoods and willows, the last of the river collects in a pool where dragonflies hover and reeds sway in the breeze.
Then the river dies, disappearing into the sand.
Decades ago, the Kern flowed all the way through Bakersfield. But so much water has been appropriated and diverted in canals to farmland that the river has vanished in the city, leaving miles of dry riverbed.
Photo: A sandy riverbed is all that remains as water no longer flows through the Kern River at Beach Park in downtown Bakersfield.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)