Piru Creek Whitewater Boating


Pursuant to Article 408 of United Water Conservation District’s (United) license, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Santa Felicia Project (P-2153), requires that, by August 15 of each year, United provide notification of proposed conservation water releases to interested members of the whitewater boating community.

Despite some relief to ongoing drought conditions in other areas of the state, Lake Piru is still experiencing the effects of a prolonged drought, which has resulted in exceptionally low surface water levels in the Lake Piru reservoir for the seventh consecutive year. Due to these conditions, United will not be conducting a water conservation release in 2019.  As a result, whitewater recreational opportunities associated with conservation releases will not be provided.

Pursuant to the terms of United’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license for the operation of the Santa Felicia Dam, whitewater boating access on Piru Creek below Santa Felicia Dam is available only when 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) is released from the dam. Primarily, flows of 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) or greater only occur during United's water conservation releases.  These conservation releases occur in most years and are conducted over a period of several weeks, typically in the early fall.  Due to ongoing drought conditions, however, the District has only conducted two conservation release since 2012, one in May of 2017 and another in June of 2019.  These emergency conservation releases were the District’s attempt to combat rising nitrate levels in local groundwater. 

In addition to the above, Article 410 of the District’s FERC license also requires that the District provide portage over the Santa Felicia Dam for whitewater enthusiasts boating down middle Piru Creek between January 1 and May 31 and when releases from Lake Piru exceed 200 cubic feet per second (cfs). The District must also maintain a takeout location above Lake Piru for such purposes. Boaters seeking portage are encouraged to take out above Lake Piru and request escorted access to the put in location below the dam to avoid safety issues associated with climbing up and over the steep terrain. All requests for whitewater access and or portage require 24 hours’ notice and shall occur only on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) between 9am and 3pm between January 1 and May 31 when releases from Lake Piru exceed 200 cfs. 

To make a reservation, please contact United Water Conservation District’s Park Service Officer staff at (805) 320-3990 or (805) 774-6301.

Please check this website for updates on releases from Santa Felicia Dam.

For current flow conditions in lower Piru Creek, please check the US Geological Survey's website for the USGS gauging station below Santa Felicia Dam.

For additional information of whitewater boating on lower Piru Creek, please also refer to the American Whitewater webpage.


Water Release Below Santa Felicia Dam

30 Day Period


Visit USGS Water Resources

Updated: March, 2018