SCE to present water options
Southern California Edison is scheduled give a presentation on water supply options to the City Council on April 18, according to both City Manager David Jinkens and Edison Sr. Project Manager Robert Laffoon Villegas.
The presentation is expected to be based largely on the long-awaited report by a desalination expert hired by Edison. The report was originally expected in December 2016. City Manager Jinkens and City Attorney Scott Campbell both confirmed that the report was delivered electronically to Avalon officials on Monday, April 10.
Details of the report were not available at presstime. However, Edison representatives and Avalon city staff have been talking for months about long-term solutions to Catalina’s fresh water supply needs.
Gov. Gerry Brown recently declared California’s drought emergency to be over.
However, Catalina remains under Stage 1 water conservation restrictions. Catalina was under Stage 3 (up to 50 percent) water rationing from September 2016 to last month.
Edison and city staff are in general agreement on the outlines for addressing the water supply, but not the details. Edison and Avalon representatives agree water storage is needed. In late March, two Edison representatives provided the council with a preview of the desalination expert’s report.
At that time, the Edison representatives said it could take two- to three-years to build a half million gallon water storage tank on Catalina. (Last year, Avalon staff proposed a 2-million gallon tank.) Edison expects to know in June whether the company will get grant money to fund the project.
Kim Brown, an Edison project manager, described three alternatives for improving Avalon’s water infrastructure, which include replacing one or both of the Island’s existing desalination units and possibly adding a third. Brown said the first desalination unit was aging.
Estimated construction costs would range from almost $20 million to almost $32.5 million. The least expensive option would be phased in gradually and include constructing a half-million gallon storage tank.
Jeff Lawrence, senior project manager for Southern California Edison, described the water system improvements as a build out that could be implemented over 20 to 30 years.
However, council members were concerned about the length of time the improvements would take.
Councilwoman Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy, for example, was concerned that Avalon might go back to Stage 2 (up to 25 percent) rationing during the 2017 summer visitor season if there is no more rain.
Lawrence said the utility company does not expect Avalon to go back to Stage 2 water rationing until April 2019, even if there is no rain.