2015-03-05 / Front Page

'LIKE NEW'

Parts of Wildwood Park damaged by water leak reopen to the public
By Becca Whitnall


STABILITY—The restored hillside where the main washout occurred is covered with a native hydroseeding mix and hay wattles— straw tubes that improve erosion control—to help hold the hillside in place. The park district asks hikers to keep off the baby plants. 
Courtesy of Conejo Recreation and Park District STABILITY—The restored hillside where the main washout occurred is covered with a native hydroseeding mix and hay wattles— straw tubes that improve erosion control—to help hold the hillside in place. The park district asks hikers to keep off the baby plants. Courtesy of Conejo Recreation and Park District Two and a half months after a cracked water pipe erupted at Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, sending a geyser high into the air and damaging parts of the park, facilities have been repaired and are open again to visitors.

The estimated 100,000 gallons of water that poured from the 40-year-old, 39-inch-diameter potable water pipe on Dec. 15 took out some of the park’s hillside from the San Miguel trail down to the bottom of the canyon, where a nature center is located, said Matt Kouba, Conejo Recreation and Park District park superintendent.

It flooded restrooms at the center, where the park district hosts day camps and activities like its popular s’mores hikes, with about a foot and a half of water.


OPEN FOR BUSINESS—Visitors hike in Wildwood Regional Park on March 2 after the storms. 
JOAN PAHOYO/Acorn Newspapers OPEN FOR BUSINESS—Visitors hike in Wildwood Regional Park on March 2 after the storms. JOAN PAHOYO/Acorn Newspapers “They are basically being buried in mud,” CRPD General Manager Jim Friedl told the Acorn at the time of the eruption. “We, the district, are going to definitely have some cleaning up and digging out to do once it has all been stabilized.”

In the end, it wasn’t the park district, but Callegaus Municipal Water District, which owns the pipeline, that did most the cleanup.

“Callegaus and their contractors did all the work. . . . They brought in soil and packed it in to rebuild the hillside,” Kouba said. “We thought we might have to rebuild the bathrooms, but they’re good as new.”

Eric Bergh, Calleguas resources manager, said he didn’t know how much soil had to be brought in, but a fair amount came from another project taking place in the city.

“I do know that we worked with the City of Thousand Oaks and they provided some dirt imported into the project site from their Erbes Road widening project, so that was beneficial for both parties,” he said.

“I think this is a solid example of interagency cooperation,” Bergh added, “including cooperation of the neighbors in that area. All in all, it was a good experience, given the emergency conditions that were in play with the blowout that occurred.”

The pipe, which passes through an anchor wall that keeps it in place, burst when it became separated from the wall, Bergh said at the time of the incident.

“The suspicion is that maybe the soil in that area shifted with the rain because the pipe separated on the downstream side of one of the walls, right at the wall,” he said. “If you bend a paper-towel roll and get a little separation at the top, that’s what happened.”

For its part, the park district was on site to protect the park and its visitors and oversaw the seeding of the new hillside.

While the trails are open again, the district is making one request of hikers.

“The one thing we’re asking is people don’t walk on the baby plants,” Kouba said.

The park supervisor said he believes the plants have a good shot at doing well, especially with the rains the area’s had recently.

The district will likely wait about two years to remove the fencing protecting the plants.

By then, he said, they’ll be well established and visitors may not even be able to tell the pipe rupture ever occurred.

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