During a presentation in the Main Theater in Newhall on Wednesday, Santa Clarita residents heard one community member’s idea on how to combat the California drought through a major feat of civil engineering at the heart of the city.
Standing before roughly 20 people on the Main Street stage, Santa Clarita resident John Pramik shared his proposal for what he is calling the “Santa Clarita River Lake” project — a rainwater collection system that would form an ecologically friendly, 90-surface-acre body of water in the Santa Clara Riverbed.
His proposed location, Pramik said while pointing at a 1/1600th model of his vision, for the river-lake system would be located in the wash behind the William S. Hart baseball complex, and provide not only a year-round fresh water source, but also a habitat for a number of species of plants and animals, as well as family entertainment and waterfront property.
“When it rains in our city, it pours and the water runs off very quickly,” Pramik said in a video played during the presentation. “The problem is that most of it drains into the ocean. But this time we will be ready, we will harvest it.”
By using a combination of the natural rain water flowing down the wash, as well as Bouquet Canyon Creek, millions of gallons of water released a day by the Saugus Water Reclamation Plant and dams at either end of the body of water, Pramik said the Santa Clarita River Lake could collect approximately 300 million gallons of water.
“When it does rain, we will be able to harvest and store this precious rainwater as a low-level reservoir in the center of our city,” said Pramik. “It will be used for emergency firefighting, recreation, sailing and a home for our endangered species, especially the unarmored stickleback fish.”
Of the cost and time frame for building the water harvesting system, Pramik said he did not yet have those numbers exactly nailed down. An engineering firm he worked with speculated that the cost for the project could be upwards of $100 million, but said that price tag could be cut down through business investment and funding from government agencies.
Pramik said that over the last few years of developing the idea, he had analyzed and spoke with cities such as Tempe, Arizona and Oklahoma City, which implemented similar projects in their municipalities.
“Oklahoma City raised their tax 1 cent” to build a water harvesting system similar to the one Pramik was proposing locally, he said.
Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda, who has publicly supported the project and was in attendance at Wednesday night’s meeting, said community support in overcoming obstacles would be necessary to make the Santa Clarita River Lake possible.
“There are a lot of stakeholders that are looking at this and saying, ‘Maybe it’s viable, but we want to make sure,’” said Miranda during the meeting. He later added: “Everybody wants to conserve water, but there’s a bit of a hesitancy. Is it really viable?”
But Miranda said community support, and letting the City Council know about that support, would help propel the project forward and begin making the Santa Clarita River Lake a reality.
“A little over a year ago, the ice Station in Santa Clarita was closed down; not only was it closed down, but it was about to be torn down,” said Miranda. “But a grassroots movement began to take place, people petitioned the city, they sent us emails, they sent us texts, they made phone calls.”
“In what was an absolute ‘No,’ turned into an absolute ‘Yes,’” Miranda added. “So you want to influence the City Council? That’s how you do it.”
To learn more about the proposed Santa Clarita River Lake, visit the project’s website at https://www.santaclaritariverlake.com/.