United Water Conservation District released on June 2 roughly 15,000 acre feet of water from the Santa Felicia Dam’s Lake Piru, a call made by District General Manager Mauricio E. Guardado, Jr., as an emergency water quality control effort to combat rising nitrate levels in the district’s wells at its El Rio facility.

“The release of 400 [cubic feet per second] here at Santa Felicia Dam will result in the diversion of high-quality water at our Freeman Diversion facility, recharging the aquifer and, ultimately, offsetting the increasing nitrate levels in our wells at El Rio,” Guardado said at a special meeting held at the Santa Felicia Dam, attended by general managers and boards of directors from several neighboring water districts. “By taking action before the situation is critical, we are confident in our ability to ensure the public’s safe drinking water as we move into the dry, warm days of summer. . . . Through our collaborative efforts and preparation, we are able to take advantage of opportunities such as the purchase of Article 21 State Water, which helps all of us manage, protect, preserve and enhance our water resources.”

The emergency water quality release coincides with the release of 10,000 acre feet of Article 21 State water from Castaic Lake, purchased by the district in April from Northern California under the California Department of Water Resources’ State Water Article 21 program.

The release will continue over the next two weeks, offering the public a rare opportunity to access whitewater kayaking below the Santa Felicia Dam in lower Piru Creek. Individuals interested in accessing lower Piru Creek on the weekends during the release period must request access 24 hours in advance by contacting Lake Piru Senior Park Services Officer Clayton Strahan at 525-4431, ext. 148, or by emailing claytons@unitedwater.org.