The Santa Felicia Dam is an integral part of UWCD’s operations and a key facility in United’s mission to manage and protect the water resources of the Santa Clara Valley and the coastal Oxnard Plain in Ventura County. Santa Felicia Dam and Lake Piru Reservoir were constructed across Piru Creek in 1954 and 1955. The construction was locally funded without State or Federal subsidies, loan or grants. The dam was designed to recharge downstream groundwater basins that had been depleted due to substantial over pumping and to combat seawater intrusion in the groundwater aquifers near the Pacific Ocean.
To accomplish this, runoff from the Piru Creek Watershed is stored in Lake Piru in winter and spring, when downstream groundwater basins are at their fullest. Using the stored water, UWCD utilizes conservation releases from Santa Felicia Dam each year when the downstream groundwater basins are at their seasonal lows. The water is released into Lower Piru Creek and continues to flow to the Santa Clara River, where it is joined by runoff from the Sespe and Santa Paula Creek watersheds.
The conservation releases are designed to maximize the amount of water that reaches the Freeman Diversion at Saticoy, located downstream on the Santa Clara River. The recharge basins at Saticoy boasts an amazing percolation rate, replenishing groundwater basins with water that eventually is made available to municipalities, industry and farms.