Lake Casitas
Wfm lake casitas landsat.jpg
Location of Lake Casitas in California, USA.
Location of Lake Casitas in California, USA.
Lake Casitas
Location of Lake Casitas in California, USA.
Location of Lake Casitas in California, USA.
Lake Casitas
LocationVentura County, California
Coordinates34°23′33″N 119°20′05″W / 34.3924°N 119.3346°W / 34.3924; -119.3346Coordinates: 34°23′33″N 119°20′05″W / 34.3924°N 119.3346°W / 34.3924; -119.3346
Lake typeReservoir
Primary inflowsCoyote Creek
Primary outflowsCoyote Creek
Catchment area39 sq mi (100 km2)
Basin countriesUnited States
Managing agencyCasitas Municipal Water District
Max. length3.3 mi (5.3 km)
Max. width1.9 mi (3 km)
Surface area1,100 acres (450 ha)
Max. depth240 feet (73 m)[1]
Water volume254,000 acre⋅ft (313,000,000 m3)
Shore length132.4 miles (52.1 km)[1]
Surface elevation338 ft (103 m)
IslandsMain Island
SettlementsOak View, Ojai
ReferencesU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lake Casitas
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Casitas is a reservoir in Ventura County, California, built by the United States Bureau of Reclamation and completed in 1959.[2] The project provides drinking water and water for irrigation.[3][4] A secondary benefit is flood control. It was the venue for canoeing and rowing at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Casitas Dam was constructed on Coyote Creek, two miles (3 km) before it joins the Ventura River. Santa Ana Creek and North Fork Coyote Creek also flow into the lake. The system was designed for water from the Ventura River to be diverted into a canal under specific conditions since the impounded watershed is not sufficient to fill the lake.[5] The dam is 279 ft (85 m) creating a lake capacity of 254,000 acre⋅ft (313,000,000 m3).[6] The dam was built as part of the Ventura River Project. In the center of Lake Casitas is 2 km Main Island, whose peak rises more than 500 feet (150 m) from the lake surface.[7]


The lake filled and overflowed for the first time around the 1970s.[8]

During the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Lake Casitas hosted the canoeing and rowing events.[9]

The Thomas Fire at the end of 2017 had a significant impact on operations since the wildfire burned a large area within the watershed of the Ventura River.[10] Rainstorms brought a lot of ash, sandy silt, gravel, and debris into the Robles diversion facility that had collected over several years since the fire resulting in some temporary shutdowns of water from the Ventura River.[11][12]


The Casitas Municipal Water District provides drinking water to the Ojai Valley, parts of Ventura, and the Rincon coast north of Ventura.[13][14] They took over management of the Ojai water system by purchase of the franchise from Golden State Water Company in April 2017 after an overwhelming vote in favor.[15]

The Robles Diversion Dam was constructed on the Ventura River in 1958 to divert up to 107,800-acre-foot of water (133,000,000-cubic-metre) per year through a four-and-a-half mile canal (7.2 kilometres) to the reservoir.[16] About 40% of the total water in Lake Casitas is supplied from high winter flows in the Ventura River.


Human contact with the water is prohibited by the Board of Directors at the Casitas Municipal Water District. The board states that since the Lake is used for drinking water, body contact with water is not allowed, but fishing, boating, rowing and camping are permitted.[17]

The "no body contact with water" lake policy was established by The Casitas Municipal Water District in the 1950s and 1960s because the lake did not have a filtration system in place. In the 1990s a multimillion-dollar filtration system upgrade was made to the Lake Casitas facility. The US Department of the Interior conducted a 10-year study on the lake where allowing body contact with water was explored. The study reported, "The capabilities of the current water filtration system to handle the additional burden of body contact were called into question. The system was shown to exceed current regulatory standards, and would “probably” be sufficient to mitigate body contact pollution as well."[18] The Casitas Municipal Water District has not significantly changed the "no body contact with water" regulations in response to the facilities upgrade.

Lake Casitas as seen looking eastward from California State Route 150
Lake Casitas as seen looking eastward from California State Route 150


What is believed to be the only nesting pair of bald eagles on Ventura County's mainland uses a large nest at the lake.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Lake Casitas, CA: Lake Improvements" (PDF). Navionics. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2013.
  2. ^ Carlson, Cheri (April 4, 2016). "Drought uncovers family history buried under Lake Casitas". Ventura County Star. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  3. ^ Boyd-Barrett, Claudia (September 8, 2014). "Ventura leans on lake for water for eastern half of city". Ventura County Star.
  4. ^ Staff (April 17, 2015). "Lake Casitas just 50 percent full". Ventura County Star.
  5. ^ Carlson, Cheri (March 12, 2019). "Lake Casitas gets OK to divert more water just as it passes the mark to do so". Ventura County Star. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  6. ^ Carlson, Cheri (April 18, 2016). "No rain could mean Lake Casitas runs dry in four years". Ventura County Star. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  7. ^ Carlson, Cheri (November 10, 2017). "As Lake Casitas shrinks, a search is on for untapped water supplies". Ventura County Star. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  8. ^ Crawford Coates; Kit Stolz (April 20, 2017). "ALL THAT THE RAIN PROMISES | Questions remain as western Ventura moves toward a state water connection". VC Reporter | Southland Publishing. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  9. ^ 1984 Summer Olympics official report. Archived 2010-11-02 at the Wayback Machine Volume 1. Part 1. pp. 108–12.
  10. ^ Carlson, Cheri (March 28, 2019). "Thomas Fire fallout blamed for second 'critical shutdown' at Lake Casitas facility". Ventura County Star. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  11. ^ Carlson, Cheri (August 3, 2020). "Longtime incumbent on Ojai Valley water board announces he will not seek re-election". Ventura County Star. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  12. ^ Carlson, Cheri (December 16, 2021). "Storm delivers small boost to drought-stressed Lake Casitas". Ventura County Star. Retrieved December 17, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Carlson, Cheri (August 29, 2018). "Drought-stricken western Ventura County may need more than planned $45M pipeline as a fix". Ventura County Star. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  14. ^ Stantec Consulting Services Inc. (June 8, 2020). Draft Casitas Municipal Water District Comprehensive Water Resources Plan (Report). Casitas Municipal Water District.
  15. ^ Boyd-Barrett, Claudia (May 13, 2016). "Casitas moves to take over Ojai water system". Ventura County Star. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  16. ^ "Robles Dam". U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation. June 4, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  17. ^ Carlson, Cheri (September 23, 2021). "Review finds rust, safety issues at Lake Casitas water park". Ventura County Star. Retrieved September 27, 2021.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Bureau of Reclamation (February 2010) "Lake Casitas Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement" United States Department of the Interior
  19. ^ Kisken, Tom (January 27, 2022). "Updated: Ojai Valley's walking, talking eagle cam awaits babies in the nest". Ventura County Star. Retrieved March 29, 2022.

Further reading