Water storage for Avalon?
Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the date on which Southern California Edison expects it might be necessary to return to Stage 2 water restioning. The article now correctly puts the projected date at April 2019, assuming there is no more rainfall.
Southern California Edison says it could take two- to three-years to build a half million gallon water storage tank on Catalina. The utility company is hoping to get grant money for the project and will know in June. If Edison can’t get grant money, the company will have to speak with local stakeholders—residents, city officials and businesses.
Meanwhile, City Council members expressed concern about Avalon’s current water supply.
This week Kim Brown, an Edison project manager, gave the council a preview of the desalination water infrastructure study. The study, delayed since last December, is now expected to be completed in April.
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. He said the half million gallon stroage tank would probably be a two to three year project.
Brown described three alternatives for improving Avalon’s water infrastructure, which include replacing one or both of the Island’s desalination units and possibly adding a third. Brown said the first unit was aging. Estimated construction costs would range from almost $20 million to almost $32.5 million. Brown said Edison is hoping to get grant money to work on Alternative 1, which is the least expensive of the options. Alternative 1 would be phased in gradually and include constructing a half-million gallon storage tank.
Councilwoman Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy said Edison was talking about two years. She expressed concern that Avalon might go back to Stage 2 (up to 25 percent) rationing during the summer if there is no more rain. According to Lawrence, the utility company does not expect Avalon to go back to Stage 2 until April 2019 even if there is no rain.
Councilman Joe Sampson said the city needs to come up with a plan without Edison.
Sampson raised concern that the current water supply system was not sustainable. Councilwoman Cassidy wondered how many more visitors and residents Catalina can handle with its water supply.
Resident Pam Albers said it was pretty clear Edison was going to do what it wants. She said the first desalination unit was “done” and the city was in the same place as in April 2013. Brown said the first desalination unit was not failing, it was aging.
According to Brown, the desalination study projects local water demands to 2025. City Manager David Jinkens said it was important for the city to have the same information about water demand. However, Lawrence said it was not Edison’s place to release information provided to the company by third parties. City Attorney Scott Cambpell said the water demand information could be reverse engineered from the report. Cassidy also expressed frustration that Edison could charge residents for using fresh water, desalinated water and for the water that was not sold because of the drought.