|Location||Los Padres National Forest,|
Ventura County, California
|Primary inflows||Piru Creek|
Agua Blanca Creek
|Primary outflows||Piru Creek|
|Catchment area||421.4 sq mi (1,091 km2)|
|Basin countries||United States|
|Surface area||1,240 acres (500 ha)|
|Max. depth||130 ft (40 m)|
|Water volume||83,244 acre⋅ft (102,680,000 m3)|
|Surface elevation||1,043 ft (318 m)|
|References||U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lake Piru|
Lake Piru (/ /(listen)) is a reservoir located in Los Padres National Forest and Topatopa Mountains of Ventura County, California, created by the construction in 1955 of the Santa Felicia Dam on Piru Creek, which is a tributary of the Santa Clara River.
The reservoir is more widely known for celebrity incidents: in 1999, actor Harrison Ford crashed his helicopter by the lake, and in 2020 actress Naya Rivera died by drowning. Due to these incidents, swimming at the lake is permanently banned.
The elevation of the reservoir is 1,043 ft (318 m), and the elevation of the dam spillway is 1,055 ft (322 m). The dam is owned and operated by the United Water Conservation District based in nearby Santa Paula, California. The district is a multi-service district providing flood control, recreation services, surface and groundwater conservation, groundwater replenishment, and wholesale water for agriculture and urban uses to the Santa Clara River Valley and Oxnard Plain. Formed on December 5, 1950, under the Water Conservation Act of 1931, it owns approximately 2,200-acre around and including the lake and dam (890 ha).
The Lake Piru Recreation Area, along the western shore, has about 60 acres (24 ha) with various recreational facilities for camping, boating, fishing, and picnicking. The 238 campsites have water and electric hookup along with a snack bar. There are 66 boat slips with a full-service marina. While swimming had been a popular recreational activity, it was formally prohibited in August 2020 following the death of actress Naya Rivera in July that year; the lake had been closed to the public for over a month before the ban was imposed. Prior to this, it was the only lake in the county that permitted swimming.
The lake is situated downstream from Pyramid Lake and can be accessed from Piru Canyon Road near the town of Piru, California.
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has developed a safe eating advisory for Lake Piru based on levels of mercury or PCBs found in fish caught from this water body.
In 2020, the Lake Piru Recreation Area was closed for several months for various reasons. Besides one week at the start of July, it was closed to the public for almost five months between April and August. It was initially closed before April 4 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reopening on July 1. It then re-closed a week later following the disappearance of Naya Rivera, and stayed closed until August 20 because of this and, later, the Holser Fire blocking Piru Canyon Road.
Quagga mussels became established in Lake Piru and then downstream in the Lower Piru Creek in 2013. While this was the first discovery in Ventura County, they are an invasive species found in various rivers and lakes in the U.S. As of 2014[update], the district was exploring options using a technical panel consisting of state Fish and Wildlife staff as well as representatives from the National Marine Fisheries Service and other federal, state, and local agencies. The district has to develop plans to deal with further colonization. The Casitas Municipal Water District that manages nearby Lake Casitas suggested that the reservoir be drained. Poisoning it with a potassium solution was also considered.
Due to harsh conditions such as debris, low visibility, different currents, strong winds, and cold water temperatures, a number of fatalities related to drowning have occurred at Lake Piru.
On October 23, 1999, actor Harrison Ford was on a training flight in his helicopter when he crashed in a dry riverbed by the lake; both Ford and his instructor were unharmed.
Parts of the pilot episode of television series Supernatural were filmed at the lake, with the episode focusing on the main characters seeking out the ghost of a drowned woman.
The episode of the series Lost Tapes, "Oklahoma Octopus" was filmed here.