Castaic Lake is to be a major reservoir in the State Water Project, serving both to store and to regulate the water. In addition, it will provide recreation opportunities in an area where tremendous demand for recreation remains unsatisfied.
Castaic Lake, a 2,232-acre reservoir with a 28-mile shoreline at normal pool elevation, will lie in northwestern Los Angeles County. Access to its Downstream Pool and Elizabeth Lake Canyon recreation facilities would be through the town of Castaic from Interstate Route 5. The relocated Lake Hughes Road will connect the Pool with the recreation areas. At the north end of the Castaic Canyon arm, the Warm Springs Road has been relocated and will provide access to this area.
The Lake will rise behind Castaic Dam, an earthfill dam on Castaic Creek, and will contain up to 324,000 acre-feet of water. Releases from Pyramid Lake though the Angeles Tunnel will generate hydroelectricity at Castaic Power Plant.
The Lake will lie in an area of rugged hills (some reaching 4,000 feet above se level) covered with scrub oak, yucca, black and purple sage, chamise, and ceanothus.
Particularly during late summer, the dry ground cover and low humidity create a fire hazard, which is expected to increase with public use. The U.S. Forest Service maintains a guard station in Elizabeth Lake Canyon. Pursuant to Forest Service requirements, the State will construct a single-lane fire road connecting this canyon with Castaic Canyon. Furthermore, Los Angeles County will operate a year-round fire station in Castaic Valley near the Downstream Pool, and the County shall prepare and maintain a fire plan. This station shall provide for initial attacks, aimed at fire suppression and for supplemental attacks, as needed, by outside fire control units.
Recreation Demand and Use Projections.
For the purposes of predicting the present demand for water- associated recreation at Castaic Lake, data were collected from several reservoirs with similar characteristics. These date were analyzed, and it was determined that recreation demand was greater than could be provided for at the project, primarily because of the limited amount of land with slopes moderate enough to be used for onshore recreation development.
Future demands for recreation resulting from increasing amounts of leisure time, growing population, enhanced income, and greater mobility also make it impossible for Castaic Lake to meet the recreation demand for fresh water-associated recreation.
Use of the reservoir will begin in 1971 with completion of project construction and water availability. However, because of the time needed to fill, little recreation activity is expected until 1973. The downstream pool will be filled in 1971, however, and with development of recreation facilities could accommodate many recreationists during the two years it will take to fill Castaic Lake.