Edison sees ongoing water drawdown

An acre foot of water is enough water to submerge 1 acre of flat land one foot deep in water. The illustration above compares an acre foot of water to a football field. Artwork courtesy Catalina Islander staff

Southern California Edison is forecasting that Stage One water restrictions will go into effect in June or July, according to a spokesman for the company. Visitors to Avalon may not know that the electric company owns the local water utility. Water allocation letters are expected to go out soon to customers who have been on the wait list.

In related news, Edison recently issued the water level update for the reservoir. “As of March 9, 2022 the current water elevation at Middle Ranch Reservoir is 655.84 feet above sea level. This equates to a storage capacity of 663.95 acre-feet,” according to the Tuesday, March 15 email. An acre foot of water means enough water to submerge 1-acre of land 1-foot deep in water. (See page 2.)

As of Feb. 9, Edison put the reservoir’s storage capacity at 677.91; as of Jan. 5 the figure was 687.69 acre-feet.

Luke Schaner, of Edison, gave an update on the water allocation plan at the March 15 City Council meeting. Water allocations must be approved before construction projects can start on Catalina, which has an impact on housing and business.

According to Schaner, the utility has seen a drawdown of water since January and that draw down has continued after a short-term surge in water.

Mayor Anni Marshall asked when Catalina would see Stage Two.

Based on the data shown in a chart, Schaner put Stage Two in late 2023 or early 2024.

Earlier, he told the council that trends could change based on new data.

Schaner said Edison was maximizing its water desalination.

He went over the allocation process: Edison receives the application. Edison issues a letter notifying an applicant that the application is approved. If water isn’t available, the applicant is notified that they have been put on a wait list.

Once an application is approved, an Edison planner and the applicant coordinate the building plan. Once building is completed and an occupancy permit is issued, the customer submits a service request. Edison starts the service.

Allocation letters are scheduled to go out in April.

During the meeting, Councilmember Lisa Lavelle turned to the subject of water rates.

She expressed concern that water usage restrictions might be based on usage during the pandemic.

She pointed out that hotels that had no occupants would have had zero usage. Lavelle said she wanted to look at the rate issue, saying that if felt like people were being penalized for being good at something, apparently a reference to saving water.

“I understand it’s not meant to be a penalty, but it feels like a penalty,” she said.