July 11 target date for Stage 1 water restrictions

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

Reservoir can hold about 1,054 acre feet of water. Current level: 578

A representative of Southern California Edison told the City Council this week that July 11 is the targeted effective date for activating Stage 1 water restrictions for Avalon.

Stage 1 was officially triggered when the water level at Middle Ranch Reservoir dropped below 600 acre feet.

“As of June 20, 2022 the current water elevation at Middle Ranch Reservoir is 653.54 feet above sea level. This equates to a storage capacity of 578.03 acre-feet,” according to a June 21 email from Southern California Edison.

According to the electricity company, which owns the Avalon water utility, the reservoir can hold a maximum about 1,054 acre feet of water.

“For Stage 1, there is no ration requirement,” said Luke Shaner of Southern California Edison during the Tuesday, June 21 City Council meeting.

There are 15 specific restrictions in Stage 1. (Details may be found at www.sce.com/regulatory/tariff-books/santa-catalina-gas-water-tariffs.)

Among the restrictions:

Restaurants will not provide water to patrons unless requested.

“Operators of hotels, motels or similar business establishments providing overnight accommodations shall provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily. The operators of these establishments shall prominently display notice of this option in each guestroom using clear and easily understood language,” according to the “Schedule 14.1 Staged Water Mandatory Water Conservation and Rationing” document. Edison will be holding a public meeting, sending information to water customers and publishing information about Stage 1 restrictions in the Islander.

Councilmember Cinde Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy, apparently speaking to local restaurants, said, “Don’t just offer water bottles; offer something that won’t impact our landfill.”

She also raised a long-standing complaint among Island residents. She said she thought it was unfair for Edison to come in after the fact and charge the community for the water Edison didn’t sell during the drought.

Residents (and council members) have long complained that following a drought, Edison files a request with the California Public Utilities Commission to increase the water rates to offset revenue lost to water savings during a drought.