As the drought in California continues, county and federal officials are working on getting water for Bouquet Canyon residents while maintaining a healthy habitat.
About 40 comments were submitted during the public comment period for a proposed solution to the numerous conflicts that have arisen from the dry, silted-up creek bed, said Bob Blount, district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District. The general consensus was favorable towards the proposed project, he added.
“Hopefully, (we) will be in the permitting process in the month or so,” Blount said. “How long it takes to get those permits, I can’t speak for other agencies.”
The water in Bouquet Creek comes from the Bouquet Reservoir, a little more than 13 miles north of the Bouquet Canyon Road community.
“The county is in the process in getting expert advice to find the best way to remove sediment from the creek,” Blount said, adding that county officials are looking at engineering aspects of the project. “Then, we will consult with the appropriate agencies and they will get the permits necessary to commence work.”
Silt buildup in Bouquet Creek has made the creek level with the road, creating a flood hazard when it rains or water is released into the creek, according to Supervisor Michael Antonovich during a February 2014 meeting. A couple months later, county officials installed two sets of gates along Bouquet Canyon. These gates are closed when water is let out of the reservoir to fill up the resident’s wells.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency for the area on Feb. 24, 2014.
LARC Ranch, a community for developmentally disabled adults, resorted to trucking in 11,000 gallons of water daily, said Kathleen Sturkey, executive director of LARC Ranch – a move that cost the nonprofit about $150,000 annually.
County officials let out water from the reservoir to fill up the resident’s and business’s wells, but it isn’t enough.
Most of the corn at Lombardi Ranch didn’t make it last year, said Levi Lombardi, who oversees the Lombardi Ranch, in a previous interview.
Neither the state of California nor the Santa Clarita Valley have had three straight years of this level of drought in more than 100 years of recorded history, according to water officials.
There have been numerous propositions by various agencies to solve the problem including a road alignment and a pipeline connecting the Bouquet Canyon properties to city of Santa Clarita water.
The new proposed plan by the U.S. Forest Service would restore the habitat and biological function of the creek, including the unarmored three-spine stickleback, according to a news release. The project would also allow the water let-out to resume to “historic flows” and would minimize roadway flooding and erosion to improve safety.
A refurbishment and repurposing of the Zuni Campground as an “environmental education site” and “restoration ecology staging area” is also in the proposed plan.