United to begin fall release of Lake Piru water

On September 2, United Water Conservation District will begin its annual fall release of water held behind Santa Felicia Dam in Lake Piru. From September 2 into early November, United will release 48,400 acre-feet of water -an acre-foot represents the amount of water sufficient to cover an acre of land to a depth of one foot and is the amount generally used by two average households in one year. This annual operation, representing the primary reason for the dam's construction in the 1950s, is essential for providing for the water needs of the Santa Clara River Valley and the Oxnard Plain.
This year's release, the largest since 1995, will lower the lake level approximately 60 feet from its current level. About half of the water will recharge groundwater supplies between the dam and United's Vern Freeman Diversion Dam at Saticoy, and the other half will supply surface water to agriculture on the Oxnard Plain and will be spread to replenish coastal groundwater supplies.
The release will provide a welcome supply of water to the ecology of the Santa Clara River Valley during a time of year when the river would otherwise naturally be dry. It will also provide United staff the opportunity to conduct studies relative to fish passage, percolation rates of groundwater basins and river channel cutting.
In speaking about the release United's General Manager, Dana Wisehart, noted, "Water supplies in Ventura County are currently sufficient to provide for our needs, but if this next winter is another dry one our supplies will begin to be seriously strained. It is important to do what we can to conserve now. We need to be sure that we continue to have enough water to provide for people and the environment in our area."