Credit: Robert Laffoon Villegas
Catalina’s Middle Ranch Reservoir.

Credit: Robert Laffoon Villegas
Resident speaks with SCE staff before the public meeting.

Credit: Robert Laffoon-Villegas
Residents participate in public meeting.

Credit: Robert Laffoon-Villegas
Residents participate in public meeting.

Island Residents and Business Owners Engage in Ongoing Water Conservation

Catalina residents attend public meetings to discuss implementation of increased water rationing.

Catalina Water System Fact Sheet
Stage 3 Conservation and Rationing Fact Sheet
Conservation and Rationing FAQ


Catalina has been in mandatory 25 percent water rationing since August 2014 because of extreme drought conditions. But the impacts of the historic drought in California, combined with less-than-expected rainfall means additional water rationing is needed. Southern California Edison will implement Stage 3 water rationing on the island beginning Sept. 6.

Two public meetings, open to the entire community, were held at Avalon School on Aug. 24. Residents had the opportunity to ask individual questions regarding their water allotments and variances as well as participate in a presentation and question-and-answer session conducted by SCE staff and leaders.

Topics at the two meetings included a description of the current water situation, an overview of the island’s water system, as well as a discussion of short and long-term water projects under consideration. The presentations, including the Q&A sessions, were recorded and will be available at the City of Avalon website for viewing by residents who were unable to attend.

SCE is using a targeted approach to Stage 3 water rationing.  Unlike implementation of Stage 2, which was an island-wide 25 percent rationing for all customers, the percentage of Stage 3 rationing was determined by customer class, source water systems and amount of water used. This approach also includes a floor on water allotments to minimize the impacts to customers who have been saving water for many years.

“It is only through the combined water conservation efforts of residents and businesses on the island that we are having this meeting at this time, instead of a year ago,” said Jeff Lawrence, SCE senior project manager. “But given the circumstances and in preparation for the potential of this being an extended drought, we felt it was necessary to activate Stage 3 now in order to preserve the island’s limited drinking water resources.”

Direct outreach to customers is underway to ensure all residents and businesses are aware of the changes brought on by Stage 3. Outreach activities to various local and community groups also includes placing information in local newspapers and posting online at SCE’s Catalina webpage. New water conservation awareness materials were also provided to restaurants and hotels.

Beginning with the Stage 3 announcement at the July 19 Avalon City Council meeting, outreach and informational efforts have included updates before the council, the California Public Utilities Commission, and other elected officials. 

Over the last few weeks, island residents and business owners have received individual letters with details on their individual water allotments. SCE has held various meetings throughout Catalina to answer questions regarding the coming changes. Representatives also have met with the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce, the Island Consortium and the island’s camps, as well as residents of Two Harbors.

Bringing a second desalination plant online in April helped to delay the implementation of Stage 3 water rationing, but reservoir levels have continued to subside. The water level at SCE’s Middle Ranch Reservoir, which is used as a measure of available drinking water supply on the island, has dropped to 141 acre-feet, roughly 14 percent of capacity, a level not seen since the late 1970s.

SCE provides electric, water and gas service to about 4,000 year-round residents on the island and its 700,000 visitors each year.

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