Infiltration system catches runoff at community center

The city of Santa Clarita installed an infiltration system beneath the new Canyon Country Community Center to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff. Courtesy photo.

News release 

There are many unique features at the new Canyon Country Community Center – one of which you will never see, but it is right under your feet. During construction, a massive stormwater infiltration system was installed underneath the Mercado parking lot.  

The system captures and treats polluted stormwater from Sierra Highway before it reaches and recharges the groundwater supply, preventing pollution in the Santa Clara River. The infiltration facility is the city’s first large-scale infiltration project, which was built using Measure W Municipal funds. 

The infiltration system works through an array of filtration pipes where polluted stormwater enters a vortex spinner that takes out trash and debris, then infiltrates stormwater into the ground. The system has the capacity to capture 8 acre-feet of water for every 1-inch rain event. With the project in place, in combination with other separate water infiltration projects throughout Santa Clarita, the city can collectively filter 46.7 acre-feet of water. 

By March, the city of Santa Clarita received over 9 inches of rainfall, resulting in an estimated 14 million gallons of stormwater captured by the Community Center’s infiltration system, recharging the groundwater. That amount of water would cover 42 football fields with a foot of water, enough for 130,000 residents’ daily use.  

City staff members are preparing to install additional water metering equipment that will provide precise infiltration measurements for future rain events. 

In addition to the infiltration facility, the city’s network of stormwater infrastructure, including curbs, gutters and storm drains, prevents flooding on local streets by redirecting water into the Santa Clara River. One of the last natural free-flowing river systems in Southern California, it spans 13 miles through the city and provides a habitat for endangered species that are found nowhere else in California. While there are sections of the river without visible water flow during dry weather, much of the water flows beneath the surface.  

“Residents play a big role in protecting the city’s water quality,” Heather Merenda, city of Santa Clarita stormwater compliance administrator, said in a prepared statement. “Actions, including over-spraying pesticide and leaving pet waste behind, harm the Santa Clara River. The city provides educational public awareness campaigns, including Keep Ant Spray Out of Our Waterway and It’s Your Duty to Bag Dog Doody. With resident participation, all have a direct benefit to our watershed and the city’s water quality efforts. It’s important to know that the Santa Clara River starts at your front door. Our storm drains connect homes to the Santa Clara River through pipes, so each of us needs to do our part to ensure pesticides are applied sparingly, and pet waste is disposed of properly.” 

To learn more about the Santa Clara River and the city’s water quality efforts, visit or contact the city’s Environmental Services team by calling 661-286-4098 or by email at [email protected]. 

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