View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

Insult to injury: Bouquet Canyon gates closed for 5 days

Residents, some without water, faced 44-mile detour to get home

Posted: August 18, 2014 6:44 p.m.
Updated: August 18, 2014 6:44 p.m.

A construction worker closes the gates on Bouquet Canyon Road. The road was reopened to vehicles Monday after a five-day closures. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze


Scores of Bouquet Canyon residents frustrated over the five-day closure of their only access road can expect similar inconveniences in the future as water officials work to further reduce a “trickle” causing road problems, county sources said Monday.

Bouquet Canyon Road was re-opened late Monday afternoon, said Jim Yannotta, Aquaduct Manager for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which owns the Bouquet Reservoir.

“We’re trying to release water in amounts that does not collect on the roadway,” he said Monday.

On Thursday, however, that is precisely what happened, prompting the five-day road closure.

For months, Bouquet residents have been calling on local and federal officials to give them the water they normally receive from Bouquet Canyon Reservoir.

However, concern about the safety of Bouquet Canyon Road, which runs next to the creek in Bouquet Canyon, prompted Department of Water and Power officials to reduce the normal water allotment to a trickle.

Because the stream has become silted up over the year, there is little difference between the bottom of the stream bed and the road level. Where once a relatively deep canyon allowed the roar of water down the creek bed, now a small amount of water refuses to remain in the channel and instead flows over the road, creating hazardous driving conditions.

Thursday’s trickle did just that, prompting county workers to shut down a 3.6-mile section of the road by closing recently installed gates near Big Oaks Lodge.

Now residents can expect less water than before as water officials wrestle over an amount of water that can be released without collecting on the roadway.

The extended road closure is not something residents want to see again.

“I feel bad for the people who live up there,” said Jack Kasten, who lives near LARC Ranch — one of the largest institutions inconvenienced by the ongoing reduction of reservoir water. “They (had) to drive through Green Valley just to get home,” he said.

The circuitous route from Santa Clarita to Bouquet Creek through Green Valley and Spunky Canyon is a 44-mile detour for residents.

“I first noticed the gates closed when I came home Thursday at 9 p.m.,” Kasten said. “And I thought it was odd that it was closed. Then I saw it closed Saturday and I thought it was really odd.”

“Public Works did close the gates,” said Edel Vizcarra, planning deputy for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. “Some of the water that they released was part of the regular flow and it made its way onto the road.”

“DWP is aware of the problem and is dialing down the water it releases,” Vizcarra said, explaining “dial down” as a further reduction in water flow. That means residents downstream will see even less water. For some, wells have already dried up.

Business loss
Hitan Golek, who runs the Big Oaks Lodge - the only business on Bouquet Canyon Road - says he lost money every day the road stayed closed.

“Somebody from Public Works handed my manager a card and said, ‘We’ll be closing the gates because they’re releasing water’ and that was five days ago,” Golek told The Signal Monday.

“This is unbelievable,” he said. “I talked to people who have lived here a long time and they said they never had this happen - even with heavy snow and rain.

“What if one of these residents has a heart attack? I might be losing money but somebody might lose a life,” he said.


Government officials from Los Angeles County to Congress say they have been working on the problem, but environmental regulations prohibit dredging the creek bed without extensive permitting and environmental review.

Los Angeles County declared a local emergency on behalf of Bouquet Canyon residents on Feb. 25. The declaration called for a temporary solution: building gates at the top and the bottom of the canyon so the road can be closed at times, allowing safe release of more water to downstream residents.

The two gates on Bouquet Canyon Road were installed in April, but the flood of water never followed.

LARC Ranch, which is located on Bouquet Canyon Road and provides programs for developmentally disabled adults, began trucking in water earlier this summer after one well failed and another ran dangerously low.

The ranch has been forced to import more than 2.9 million gallons of water at a cost of $67,000 since Bouquet Creek water slowed to a trickle, spokesman Tim Whyte said Monday.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




ricketzz: Posted: August 19, 2014 9:05 a.m.

Can't they adjust the flow so the water in the street doesn't exceed say six inches? Lower the speed limit to 15 MPH when there's water on the road? Raise the road? Install one of those jazzy county pontoon bridges?

bobforte: Posted: August 19, 2014 12:41 p.m.

Can't they just remove the silt?

But, we are talking about DWP here, so I guess I can answer my own question.

Rocketeer: Posted: August 19, 2014 4:28 p.m.

Thank the liberal Democrats for this. Bouquet Creek used to be dredged every year for this exact reason, but ten years ago the "environmentalists" managed to get that stopped because of an endangered fish:

Remember when you vote who is responsible for California's drought and for the Bouquet Canyon closures and lack of water.

Unreal: Posted: August 19, 2014 5:33 p.m.

Someone with a hood covering his face and a back hoe should scrape the streambed.

CURIOUSNCALI: Posted: August 19, 2014 11:39 p.m.

Red tape between the state and the feds over a 3 inch fish we cant even eat!!!!! People are trucking in and sharing water because of a FISH!!! I love nature as much as the next man, but people are gonna die!

ricketzz: Posted: August 20, 2014 10:34 a.m.

If we wait until after we kill all the fish we will not have as good a chance at preserving your miserable life on Earth. The fish is not the problem; the San Francisco Bay Sacramento Delta hydrology is to blame. The fish only come into play when the water level is barely enough to prime the pumps anyway. Wasting the fish wouldn't give us that much water. Farmers need to stop growing water intensive crops and livestock. Drillers need to stop wasting fresh water on fracking. Oil is really at the bottom of all this. We have burned too much.

Isn't this on Federal land?

You need to be a registered user to post a comment. Please click here to register.

The Signal encourages readers to interact with one another, following the guidelines outlined in our Comment/Moderation Policy. Click here to read it.

To report offensive or inappropriate comments, e-mail The content posted from readers of does not necessarily represent the views of The Signal or Morris Multimedia. By submitting this form you agree to the terms and conditions listed above. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...