Catalina Island News

City of Avalon Continues to Focus on Water Solutions

City of Avalon

Since the time of the last City Council meeting on September 20th, I have heard many positive comments from residents and visitors about the in depth discussion held by the City Council. In fact, residents who were unable to attend but watched the meeting on television say it was the best discussion held to date at the City Council on water issues. The presentation by the City Attorney, the comments by the public and City Council members, and the comments by Southern California Edison (SCE) representative Jeff Lawrence point us to solutions in the near and longer term.

The City Manager, City Attorney and Director of Public Works are working with SCE representatives to schedule another meeting/discussion to determine how we can reach an agreement on the immediate, short term and long term steps the City and SCE should take to address the regulation-driven drought in Avalon and provide a sustainable and reliable water source in the future.

A report by City Management will be made at the City Council meeting on October 18th where specific direction will be sought from the City Council on these water initiatives. I am optimistic about finding a solution and taking action. We must persevere until we prevail!

City officials are pleased with the support of our community for positive and collaborative actions on outstanding water issues.

Private Desalinization Challenges and Opportunities
Some residents and property owners in Avalon have expressed interest in the use of private desalinization facilities to meet their fresh water needs or to increase their fresh water supply.

Based on the experience of many foreign countries and our U.S Navy one might th ink that private desalinization would be a logical approach on a drought affected City and Island. Safe desalinization has long been in use in the U.S and across the world for decades. Manufacturers of private desalinization products sell them to boaters and many other people.

The fact is that private desalinization is not a simple solution because of what appears to be a bureaucratic maze of rules and regulations that govern our State. In a water-deficient State with a vast ocean resource, one would think that State government would have one permitting agency for governmental and private users for desalinization, but this is not the case.

The City Attorney's Office has informed me that the following regulatory hurdles must be overcome to allow for private desalinization.

  1. The 2015 Ocean Plan Amendments adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board;
  2. The California Safe Drinking Water Act, including Health and Safety Code sections 116270 et. Seq. and Titles 17 and 22 of the California Code of Regulations;
  3. The California Plumbing Code;
  4. Public Utilities Code section 1503 that suggests SCE permission is needed to operate a private desalinization plant;
  5. The City's NPDES permit for the treatment plant.

While the obstacles are many, now that they are identified, motivated parties can seek change and relief of the rules. State government needs to play its part in streamlining the process for approval where no other fresh water options are available.

David Jinkens, M.P.A.
City Manager, City of Avalon