SCE, Avalon Partner to Buy Additional Desalination Unit for Catalina Island to Potentially Delay or Avoid 50 Percent Water Rationing

July 15, 2015

Media Contact: Lauren Bartlett, (626) 302-2255

ROSEMEAD, Calif., July 15, 2015 — As the historic drought continues to impact California, Southern California Edison (SCE) and the city of Avalon have partnered to buy an additional desalination unit for Catalina Island to potentially delay or avert 50 percent water rationing.

“Our community has worked hard to cut back on water use and has produced amazing results — we have reduced consumption by 34 percent, which is equivalent to a four-month water supply,” said Ron Hite, SCE district manager for Catalina Island. “With this new desalination unit, we hope to be able to get through the year until the rainy season without needing deeper rationing.”

Because of extreme drought conditions, Catalina has been in 25 percent water rationing since last August. SCE provides water to the island through pipelines, reservoirs, wells and tanks.

As a supplement to the groundwater sources, the utility has operated a desalination plant since the 1990s, which can produce 200,000 gallons of water a day. The new desalination unit, which will be connected to SCE’s desalination plant, will have the capacity to produce an additional 150,000 gallons of water a day.

"The city of Avalon is thrilled to hear of Southern California Edison's recent decision to help the Catalina Island community stave off 50 percent water rationing through the proposed acquisition of an additional desalination unit,” Avalon City Manager Ben Harvey said. “This effort squarely aligns with one of the Avalon City Council's top priorities of pursuing additional freshwater resources."

SCE will work with various local and state regulatory agencies for the necessary permits. The additional desalination unit is projected to be operational in September.

Stages of water rationing are triggered by the water level in SCE’s Middle Ranch Reservoir. The current 25 percent rationing began last August when the reservoir level fell below 300-acre feet. The trigger level for 50 percent rationing is 200 acre-feet.

SCE serves about 4,000 year-round residents on the island via 2,000 customer accounts. In addition to SCE’s residential and commercial water customers on Catalina, the island is visited by more than 700,000 people annually, mostly during the summer.

During winter months, the water produced by the current desalination plant is enough to meet Avalon’s needs. During the summer, the water demand increases to 400,000-500,000 gallons a day, and up to 800,000 gallons a day on peak weekend days.

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About Southern California Edison

An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California. 

Topics: Infrastructure, Customer Service