Edison reduces water rationing;

The audience applauded Tuesday night when a Southern California Edison representative told the City Council that Avalon water rationing would be “adjusted” down to 25 percent. Most Avalon residents, more than 90 percent, according to an Edison statement, will see their water limits reduced. The change officially went into effect Tuesday.

Some Islanders will still have to save 50 percent of their baseline water use: residents of the West End, the Isthmus, White’s Landing, Tonyon, the Airport-in-the-Sky, Little Harbor, Blackjack and Empire Landing.

The audience applauded Tuesday night when a Southern California Edison representative told the City Council that Avalon water rationing would be “adjusted” down to 25 percent. Most Avalon residents, more than 90 percent, according to an Edison statement, will see their water limits reduced. The change officially went into effect Tuesday.

Some Islanders will still have to save 50 percent of their baseline water use: residents of the West End, the Isthmus, White’s Landing, Tonyon, the Airport-in-the-Sky, Little Harbor, Blackjack and Empire Landing.

While some people regarded the announcement as good news, some Avalon officials remain concerned about long term water storage.

The change in water rationing was the result of recent rains that had raised the water level at Middle Ranch Reservoir to 283 acre feet of  Tuesday’s council meeting. The water level as of Thursday, Feb. 9, was 287 acre feet.

The reservoir can hold up to 1,100 acre feet of water.

Technically, Catalina will remain in Stage 3 rationing. When the Public Utilities Commission authorized Edison to go to Stage 3 last fall, the electricity company was given flexibility with the water rationing rates. According to Edison, changing back to Stage 2 rationing would be a longer process than simply going down to 25 percent under Stage 3—which normally can be as high as 50 percent. Most of Avalon has been under 40 percent rationing since September.

“We’re not going to wait to send out letters,” said Jeff Lawrence, senior project manager for Southern California Edison. According to Lawrence, the new water rationing went into effect Tuesday.

Lawrence said Edison needed to study the data to be sure that the new water rationing can be sustained.

According to Edison, the Middle Ranch Reservoir contains 27 percent of the water it is capable of holding.

Edison is suspending any fines until the company can notify residents about new water allocations.

Many people greeted the change as good news.

“Twenty-five percent is so much of a relief to all of our hotels and other businesses,” said Jim Luttjohann, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Anni Marshall praised the utility company for its quick response to recent rains.

Marshall said she believes Edison is working toward long-term sustainability of the water supply.

However, Councilman Joe Sampson said he wasn’t impressed. He expressed concern that if the reservoir were completely filled that Edison would end water rationing without addressing Catalina’s long-term water supply issues.

“We want a 30-year plan,” Sampson said.

Sampson wanted more information from Edison, but Lawrence said he was not on the council agenda that night and promised to give a detailed update at the Feb. 21 meeting.

According to City Manager David Jinkens, “SCE continues to not be forthcoming about their plans for creating a year round supply of water, construction of new fresh water tanks and new salt water wells.”

Jinkins has sent Edison a California Public Records Act request for information about the volume of water being produced by the two desalination units on Catalina.

Councilman Oley Olsen said it would be nice if Ron Hite, Edison’s district manager for Catalina, would visit the council.

Meanwhile, Avalon officials and Edison remain divided on such issues as the size and location of tanks to store water from the island’s desalination plants. At present, there is no water storage on the Island.

According to Edison, the company is still waiting for findings from their desalination consultant.

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