Pilot Program at Bouquet Canyon : Swimmers Test the Waters at Reservoir

Times Staff Writer

The Bouquet Canyon Reservoir in the mountains above Saugus may be opened for recreation following a pilot program by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to determine if swimming and boating would damage the water quality.

Under the pilot program, the DWP opened the eastern portion of the three-square-mile reservoir earlier this month to water skiing, canoeing and sailing classes conducted by California State University, Northridge.

Despite an urgent need for recreational facilities in the area, the public has been prohibited from using the reservoir since it opened in 1934 because swimming and boating might cause water contamination, DWP spokeswoman Treva Miller said.

The reservoir, on rural Bouquet Canyon Road near Spunky Canyon Road, holds water piped in through the Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens River Valley for use in Los Angeles.

Filtration Plant Opened

The completion of the $140-million Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant near the Los Angeles Reservoir in the department's Van Norman Dam complex in Sylmar prompted city water officials to open the facility for limited recreational use, Miller said Monday.

The filtration plant, which opened in March, purifies water brought from the north--including the water from Bouquet Canyon Reservoir--before it is delivered to the public.

The skiing and boating classes are being offered to the public through CSUN's continuing education program on weekends through Sept. 22. People cannot come to the lake on their own for boating and swimming.

"We believe such a program can be safely undertaken at this time," said LeVal Lund, the department's engineer for the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

During the time the classes are held, the department will conduct bacteriological and chemical tests to determine if there is an effect on water quality, he said.

"Water quality will not be compromised at any time," Lund said.

DWP officials will decide whether to open the reservoir permanently for public recreation at the end of the pilot program.

Part of Aqueduct System

Bouquet Canyon Reservoir is located 23 miles northeast of the intersection of the Golden State and Antelope Valley freeways. It is part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct system, which draws water from the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The system also includes Crowley Lake, Haiwee Dam, Grant Lake and the Van Norman Dam reservoir.

Crowley and Grant lakes, in Mono County at the northern end of the system, have been open for public use for several years because the water is purified naturally on its way south, Miller said. Before completion of the filtration plant, the Bouquet Canyon facility was considered to be too close to the Los Angeles area for recreational use, she said.

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