Berenda Reservoir

Berenda Reservoir is an equalization reservoir located four miles east of Chowchilla on Avenue 26. It situated on six land acres owned by the Chowchilla Water District and provides surface irrigation water for local farmers. It is part of the Chowchilla Water District distribution network that receives seasonal water released from both the Friant Dam and the Buchanan Dam at a schedule determined by the Federal and State agencies. The network consists of 150 miles of unlined canals and 49 miles of pipeline. There are over 950 turnouts where irrigation water is delivered to water users.

The City of Chowchilla has an agreement with the Chowchilla Water District to open for public use and maintain the Berenda Reservoir during the summer season when water is in the basin. Public use of the Berenda Reservoir is determined by the availability of water that is subject to seasonal releases into the irrigation network. Access to the facility is prohibited when the reservoir is not filled with water.

The City of Chowchilla has an agreement with the Chowchilla Lions Club wherein the members volunteer to open and close, maintain and oversee the use of the Berenda Reservoir. The Club works with the City to establish schedule that works with the availability of their member volunteers.

There is no charge to enter the Berenda Reservoir when it is open to the public. There is no public rental of the reservoir grounds or any of the facility amenities.

Rules & Regulations Enforcement

Per agreements with Madera County and the Chowchilla Water District, the Chowchilla Police Department has enforcement jurisdiction for Berenda Reservoir. All accidents are to be reported to the Chowchilla Police Department at (559) 665-8600, or 911 in case of an emergency.

Grounds Use Regulations

  • The reservoir grounds and water opens no earlier than 8:00 AM. and closes no later than dusk, approximately 1/2-hour before sunset.
  • Swimming is permitted in designated areas only.
  • Firearms are prohibited inside of the reservoir grounds.
  • Speed limit for vehicles inside the park gate is 15 miles per hour.
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
  • The possession of glass containers is prohibited.
  • No animals are allowed in park during a special event; the City leash law pertains to all other open hours of operation.
  • Open fires are prohibited.
  • Overnight camping is prohibited.
  • All vehicle codes and state laws apply.

Useful Brochures for Watercraft Users

Water Use Regulations

All boat operators, including operators of personal watercraft (PWC), must follow all California laws and regulations. Both boat and PWC operators need to know, understand and follow the current statutory regulations. The California Harbors and Navigation Code, will be observed at all times on Berenda Reservoir. Restrictions may be imposed by local authorities. It is the responsibility of boat and PWC operators to check with authorities to become familiar with the regulations and ordinances. The following list of rules and regulations are not all-inclusive but do highlight those of utmost importance.

  • All state boating regulations in the California Harbors and Navigation Code are in effect.
  • All vessels, boats and personal water crafts (PWC) used in California must be registered and numbered according to California law; valid registrations of another state are recognized provided the vessel will not be used in California for longer than 90 days.
  • Personal watercraft is defined as a vessel less than 12 feet in length, propelled by machinery designed for person to stand, sit or kneel;
  • California law requires that all vessels must be equipped with a Type I, II, III or V U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board.
  • California law requires any person aboard a personal watercraft, or being towed behind a vessel must wear a Type I, II, III or V U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket;
  • California law requires a vessel to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher on board and readily accessible.
  • No person shall operate any craft under the influence of intoxicants or narcotics.
  • Persons under 16 years of age are prohibited from operating any motorboat or personal water craft of more than 15 horsepower.
  • A person 12 to 15 years of age may operate a motorboat of more than 15 horsepower if supervised by a person on board who is at least 18 years of age.
  • Maximum speed for all water crafts (boats, jet skis, etc.) is 35 miles per hour;
  • All boat traffic and boats towing skiers and personal watercraft will operate in a counter clockwise traffic pattern.
  • Jumping or attempting to jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of that vessel is prohibited.
  • Spraying down another person or vessel is prohibited.
  • Operating at a rate of speed and proximity to another vessel so that either operator is required to swerve to avoid a collision is prohibited.
  • All powerboats and personal watercraft must be off the lake waters by 1/2-hour before sunset.
  • No watercraft are allowed between the shoreline and the Keep Out buoys.
  • No person will operate a watercraft in designated swimming area;
  • Swimming is not permitted in no Boating and no Wake areas.
  • Speed is limited by law for certain conditions and areas. The maximum speed for motorboats within 100 feet of a bather (but not a water skier) and within 200 feet of a bathing beach, swimming float or lifeline, passenger landing being used, or landing where boats are tied up is 5 miles per hour.
  • The Berenda Reservoir waterway is limited to 15 launched vessels at any one time (first-come, first-serve basis); the number of vessels or speed enforcement by the Chowchilla Police Department may be changed to a safer limit for users on the reservoir, as deemed necessary.