Thursday, February 15, 2018

Catalina Golf Course Back 9 As Fire Break

Wildfires devastated California in 2017.  A wildfire almost destroyed Avalon in 2007.  A primary solution to wildfires should be firebreaks.  This is verified by Catalina Island building firebreaks after the 2007 fire. Strategically placed firebreaks can prevent wildfires.  Catalina Island can implement another natural wildfire protection barrier - expansion of the current 9-hole golf course.  Such an expansion to the eastern part (and possibly western) of the golf course would be a very effective barrier to a wildfire entering Avalon from that direction.  The re-vegetation to fairway grasses and other more fire resistant plant strains would provide significant wildfire protection for the City of Avalon.

Catalina Island Golf Course

There have been many ideas about constructing nine more holes at the Catalina Island Country Club golf course.  The course originally had 18 holes.  Yet no such plan has included the supplemental aspect of serving as a city-saving firebreak.  This makes such a plan not only financially viable, because who can put a price on saving Avalon, but also justifies the water use at the site.  

Water consumption for such a firebreak addition to the golf course should not be an issue because recent on-site groundwater tests showed enough capacity to support operation of the facility.  The course is currently irrigated with its own groundwater.

On May 10, 2007, a major fire started on Catalina Island north of the city of Avalon near a radio station transmission facility.  Approximately, 5,000 acres were burned and the fire destroyed much of the electrical infrastructure that delivered power from SCE's Pebbly Beach Generating Station to Catalina's inland communities.  This was due to destruction of wooden poles that held up distribution power lines.  SCE was not responsible for the fire.

The bottom line is that not only can Avalon not be without power due to wildfire destruction of its electricity lines, the city cannot be destroyed due to an uncontrolled wildfire.  The lives of Avalon residents and the infrastructure of the city, including homes and businesses, are simply too important to leave up to chance (change in wind direction that saved the city in 2007).  We must implement all viable options to prevent such a catastrophe.  The golf course addition is one of those practical options.

This effect will require the aggressive cooperation of the City of Avalon, The Catalina Island Conservancy, the Catalina Island Company and Southern California Edison (an easement allows their lines to run across the golf course).

Saturday, May 6, 2017

New Avalon Dog Regulation

At its meeting of May 2, 2017, the Avalon City Council adopted new regulations on an urgency basis for the care and safety of the public and our dog population.  The review of the existing Avalon codes has come about because of two recent attacks on people and small animals by vicious dogs.  The City Council and management are asking for the public's help and support to ensure a safe environment for all of us. 
A summary of the existing rules are as follows:

  1. Owners must be capable of controlling their dogs at all times and have them on a leash not more than 6 feet long.
  2. Dogs are not permitted on any public beaches, Crescent Avenue in the pedestrian area, the Cabrillo Mole and Pleasure Pier except for transport across these public areas and they must be on a leash and be muzzled.
It is suggested boaters who don't have muzzles for their dogs use the dinghy dock between the clubs to bring their dogs ashore.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Avalon Tree Posing Threat To Catalina Express Passengers Cut Down

Catalina Island resident Norris McDonald wrote to the Avalon Mayor, City Council and Staff on June 2, 2015 expressing his belief that a tree leaning over the Catalina Express line could fall and kill people and should be cut down.  The threatening tree was cut down in mid-July.

Special thanks to Avalon Council Cinde Cassidy for making this happen.  I am certain that she saved lives.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Catalina Island Drinking Water Supply Options

Catalina faces a 50 percent water rationing by October 2015.  As of May 7, the water level at the Middle Ranch Reservoir was at 257 acre feet.  Rationing of 25% is in effect because Middle Ranch Reservoir is below 300 acre feet.  When the reservoir drops below 200 acre feet, 50% rationing takes effect.

Southern California Edison is looking at options that could provide 200 acre feet of water a year, or 180,000 gallons of water a day, which would maintain stage two rationing.

Viable options included:

1) Importing water through a barge or a bladder that could be moored at Pebbly Beach.  A temporary mooring station would have to be built and the water stored there could be offloaded by a temporary pipeline, which would have the potential to pump 1,000 gallons of water a minute when demand rises.

2) Upgrade the reverse osmosis units at the existing desalination plant.

3) Installing a portable reverse osmosis unit either at the Pebbly Beach plant or at the Sea Water ponds near the Baker tanks.  The new unit would have the potential to produce 150,000 to 300,000 gallons of water per day.  The new unit would recycle the discharge from the existing desalination plant, which could result in over 200,000 gallons of water produced a day.

4) Drilling deeper groundwater wells in Avalon Canyon.  The Island Company is exploring this option.

5) Construction of more water storage on the island.

Edison is involved in applying for funds under Prop 1, which was a bond act authorizing $7.12 billion for state water supply infrastructure projects.  If Edison is accepted, they could receive up to 35 percent of funds for projects to help mitigate the drought. 

According to Edison in a presentation at the July 7 hearing, the cost of the plant, which will come from Singapore (G.E, Plant)  will be $2.6 million.  The city's $500,000 contribution will drop that to $2.1 million.  Annual operating and maintenance (O&M) will equal about $500,000 annually.  The $2.1 million represents a 20% increase to customers ($20/ month for residential customers and $115/month for commercial customers (assuming grant funds do not take care of the expenses).

Any capital improvements and O & M costs have to be approved by the CPUC.

The Avalon City Council unanimously approved the supplemental payment of $500,000.

( The Catalina Islander, 5/22/2015, SCE City Council Hearing, 7/7/2015)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

California Gasoline Prices Higher Than Rest of Nation

Gasoline prices on Catalina Island average around $7 a gallon. The Santa Catalina Island Company-owned gas station on Pebbly Road is one of two service stations catering to the island. About 1.5 miles away, the city-owned Avalon Marine Dock has regular unleaded is $6.90 a gallon. On average, those who drive golf carts fill up about once a month.  Residents on Catalina Island pay on average about $2 more for gas as compared to prices on the mainland.

graph of retail prices, regular gasoline, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update

Supply disruptions in the tightly balanced and relatively isolated California gasoline market have increased wholesale and retail gasoline prices over the past several weeks. This comes after markets had adjusted to compensate for lost production following the February explosion and fire at ExxonMobil's refinery in Torrance, California. Average retail prices for regular gasoline in California as a whole, and in Los Angeles specifically, have increased by 57¢ per gallon (¢/gal), and 63¢/gal, respectively, in the past three weeks, while U.S. average retail gasoline prices have increased by 20¢/gal.
The costs of adjusting supply sources, along with planned and unplanned refinery outages and delayed resupply, have contributed to the gasoline price increases. The spot price in Los Angeles for CARBOB (California Reformulated Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending) gasoline was $2.76/gal on April 29, a premium of 75¢/gal to the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) Reformulated Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending (RBOB) front month futures contract, a standard pricing basis for gasoline. CARBOB and RBOB are different formulations of the petroleum-based component of gasoline, into which ethanol is blended to form finished gasoline.
graph of gasoline spot and futures prices, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Bloomberg
Note: L.A. denotes Los Angeles; CARBOB denotes California Reformulated Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending; Nymex denotes New York Mercantile Exchange; RBOB denotes Reformulated Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending.

The West Coast (defined as Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) 5) is relatively isolated from other U.S. markets and located far from other sources of supply, making the region dependent on in-region production to meet demand. Additionally, California's more-restrictive gasoline specifications can limit the availability of supply from other markets. When a supply disruption occurs on the West Coast, the region can be resupplied in four ways: in-region inventories, intra-PADD marine movements from other West Coast refineries, PADD-to-PADD marine movements, and imports.
In-region inventories. West Coast inventories of gasoline typically fall in the months of February, March, and April. However, inventories fell by 4.2 million barrels in the six weeks following the Torrance refinery outage (February 20-March 27), a decline of 2.2 million barrels more than the five-year average decline for the same period. As the region's supply patterns adjusted, PADD 5 gasoline inventories stabilized, and they are currently 27.6 million barrels, 0.8 million barrels above the same time last year.
Intra-PADD marine movements. Mainland PADD 5 lacks pipeline infrastructure to move supplies between the in-region refining centers (Washington, San Francisco, and Los Angeles). As a result, supplies must move via coastwise-compliant marine vessels. However, recent planned and unplanned refinery outages on the West Coast have limited the availability of gasoline supplies to be shipped to Southern California. PADD 5 gross refinery inputs fell to 2.3 million barrels per day (b/d) for the week ending April 24, the lowest since April 2013, and remained near 2.3 million b/d for the week ending May 1, compared to 2.5 million b/d last year, contributing to higher gasoline prices.
PADD-to-PADD marine movements. Gasoline supplies may also move from PADD to PADD, using coastwise-compliant vessels. Historically, there have been marine movements of gasoline from the Gulf Coast (PADD 3) to the West Coast (PADD 5), although infrequently and in small quantities. The last shipments of gasoline from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast occurred in June 2013, totaling 53,000 barrels.
Imports. Companies have also increased West Coast imports. However, because Asia is the closest global source of additional California-specification gasoline, it takes several weeks for resupply to reach the West Coast. PADD 5 imported an average of 19,000 barrels per day (b/d) of motor gasoline in 2014, but approximately five weeks after the Torrance refinery disruption, PADD 5 imports of motor gasoline had increased to 143,000 b/d for the week ending March 27. PADD 5 has since continued to import motor gasoline above normal levels, with a four-week average of 49,000 b/d for the week ending May 1 helping to keep inventory levels stable. With imports accounting for a greater share of supply, recent disruptions and delays in shipments have contributed to wholesale and retail gasoline price increases.  (DOE-EIA, CBS Los Angeles)

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Los Angeles County is the local health department that is in charge of water monitoring in Avalon Bay. According to the State, the local health officer or the local department, may at his or its discretion close, post warning signs, or otherwise restrict use of said public beach or public water-contact sports area.

When results of the water quality tests exceed California State standards, beaches are posted with warning signs in the vicinity of the high indicator bacteria counts. These signs indicate that contact with water in the area may increase the risk of illness to a swimmer. If follow-up tests indicate bacteria levels below the State standards, the signs are removed. If the bacterial levels are still higher, the signs remain posted on the beaches until the next week of testing.

The warning sign most often seen on Avalon Bay beaches - white bordered by red and black stripes - is posted when bacteria exceedances occur in areas not adjacent to, or influenced by, storm drains. It is to advise the public of the potential risk associated with swimming in ocean water. The beach remains open, and people swim based on their own comfort level of risk. (City of Avalon)

Avalon Bay Water Quality


In 1999 the County of Los Angeles began testing Avalon Bay for fecal indicator bacteria in accordance with AB 411. These test results frequently exceeded California single-sample standards for fecal indicator bacteria in coastal bathing waters, and as a result beaches in Avalon have been frequently posted as unfit for swimming.

In 2001, the City received a $500,000 grant from the State of California’s Clean Beaches Initiative to further investigate the water quality problem in Avalon Bay, and pursue mitigation measures. This grant had three goals: 1) to determine the sources of fecal indicator bacteria in the Bay, 2) to conduct further microbial source tracking studies, and 3) to characterize circulation in Avalon Bay.

These studies, which were conducted by Professors Stanley Grant (UCI), Burt Jones (USC), and Jed Fuhrman (USC) between September and November 2001, concluded that:

  1. Fecal indicator bacteria in Avalon Bay appear to originate from several land-side sources, including contaminated shallow groundwater, bird and animal fecal droppings, broken plumbing under wharf structures, and run-off from street wash down activities.
  2. Within Avalon Bay, fecal indicator bacteria concentrations are highest in ankle depth water along the shoreline. 
  3. Microbial indicators of human fecal pollution (including the human-specific bacteria Bacteroides/Provetella and human enterovirus) were detected at several locations in Avalon Bay and in groundwater sampling pits, suggesting that human sewage may contribute to water quality impairment of Avalon Bay.
  4. The rates of diffusion within Avalon Bay is sufficient to disperse contaminants introduced to the Bay within an hour or so, provided that the source of contamination is not continuous.
  5. A significant fraction of the water in Avalon Bay is exchanged with the ocean over a single tide cycle.
  6. The region of the Bay impacted by the storm drain (near the beach site called “Channel”) does not appear to have a circulation problem. Within one hour, pollutants released into this area of the Bay are transported 80 to 100 m into the Bay and diluted by a factor of 100 or more.
Based on these study results, the City implemented the following mitigation measures:

a) Sewer mains and manholes in the first three blocks from the waterfront were slip-lined and sealed; this effort was completed in May, 2002.

b) Bird control measures were intensified; this ongoing effort was initiated in 2001.

c) Plumbing under the wharfs was repaired and a regular twice per year inspection program initiated.

d) Street wash down procedures were modified to prevent run-off.

e) Sewer laterals in the first three blocks from the waterfront were repaired and sealed; this effort was initiated in May 2005 and completed in November 2005.

Note: The City of Avalon is preparing to replace sewer valves and the City Council is considering a rate increase to pay for it at a meeting in April 2015.  See:

Rate Increases For Sewer & Saltwater Service Fees

(City of Avalon, City of Avalon Compliance Plan)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

All Drinking Water Contaminants Detected Below Regulatory Levels

The water in the Catalina Island Water System is a blended supply, with fresh groundwater sources located in the interior of the island and seawater processed by the desalination system located at the Pebbly Beach Generating Station.  The primary sources for the groundwater wells are located in Middle Ranch.

SCE is required to test for a number of different contaminants in the Catalina Island Water System, with the timing of the sampling varying based on the state's requirements. In order to ensure that drinking water is safe to drink, USEPA and California DPH prescribe regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems.

Drinking water contaminants detected during tests in 2013 are listed in the table at the link above as well as an explanation of terms and abbreviations. Note that the presence of the listed contaminants in water does not necessarily mean that the water poses a health risk and that all contaminants detected are below regulatory levels established by the DPH. (SCE)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

State Water Resources Control Board

The purpose of the State Water Resources Control Board is to preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment, public health, and all beneficial uses, and to ensure proper water resource allocation and efficient use, for the benefit of present and future generations.

The Water Boards regulate wastewater discharges to surface water (rivers, ocean, etc.) and to groundwater (via land). The Water Boards also regulate storm water discharges from construction, industrial, and municipal activities; discharges from irrigated agriculture; dredge and fill activities; the alteration of any federal water body under the 401 certification program; and several other activities with practices that could degrade water quality.

Responsibility for California's water system is spread among several agencies, including the California Department of Water Resources and the federal government.

Need A Permit?

If your activities, discharges, or proposed activities or discharges from your property or business could affect California's surface, coastal, or ground waters, in most cases you will need to apply for a permit from the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board. Discharges to community sewer systems are typically not regulated by Regional Water Quality Control Boards.
If you are discharging pollutants (or proposing to) into surface water you must file a complete National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit application form(s) and appropriate application fee with the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Typical activities that affect water include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • discharge of process wastewater not discharging to a sewer (factories, cooling water, etc.)
  • confined animal facilities (e.g., dairies)
  • waste containments (landfills, waste ponds, etc.)
  • construction sites
  • boatyards
  • discharges of pumped groundwater and cleanup (underground tank cleanup, dewatering, spills)
  • material handling areas draining to storm drains
  • sewage treatment facilities
  • sanitary sewer overflows
  • filling of wetlands
  • dredging, filling and disposal of dredge wastes
  • commercial activities not discharging to a sewer (e.g., factory wastewater, storm drain)
  • waste to land
  • use of recycled water
For further questions, please contact the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rate Increases For Sewer & Saltwater Service Fees

The City Council of the City of Avalon is holding a Public Hearing on May 19, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. to consider adopting increases in the current rates for its sewer and saltwater service fees.

We support the rate increase proposal.

To learn more about this issue, go to the City Council NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING.

Customer Class
Current Rates
Proposed Rates
Effective July1, 2015
Annual Increase
Residential (per dwelling unit)
Public Shower (per shower)
Hotel (per room)
Laundries (per wash unit)
Take-out Restaurant
Bar/Restaurant (less than 100 seats)
Bar/Restaurant (more than 100 seats)

Customer Class
Current Rates
Proposed Rates Effective July 1, 2015
Annual Increase

CPUC Decision on SCE Rate Increase Application

Southern California Edison Company's Rate Increase for Santa Catalina Island Water Operations

A10-11-009 Application of Southern California Edison Company for Authority to, Among Other Things, Increase its Authorized Revenues for Santa Catalina Island Water Operations, and to Reflect that Increase in Rates.

PROPOSED OUTCOME:  Adopts all-party settlement agreement on revenue requirement and rate design for Southern California Edison Company’s (SCE) Santa Catalina Water operations. ® Closes the proceeding.

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS: Allows SCE’s Catalina Water operations to continue to provide safe, reliable water at reasonable rates.

ESTIMATED COST: ® Average water users will see a 31.37% increase in their monthly rate from $74.04 to $97.27. Includes a $8.895 million rate base transfer to SCE’s electric customers and $2.485 million capital disallowance borne by SCE shareholders.  (CPUC, p. 24)

This proceeding is categorized as Ratesetting

[ALJ Proposed Decision]

Santa Catalina Water System General Rate Case


On November 15, 2010 Southern California Edison (Edison) requested the CPUC for a rate increase of $3.2 million or 80%, resulting in a total revenue requirement of $7.2 million, for its Santa Catalina Island Water System customers for upgrades to its aging water infrastructure. On April 23, 2012, the CPUC issued a proposed decision that

1) decreased the revenue requirement increase from Edison’s requested 80% to 45%

2) shifted costs to Edison’s electric customers, and

3) maintains service rates at present levels.

In April 2012, the CPUC issued a Proposed Decision decreasing Edison's revenue increase request and proposing that the upgrade costs for Santa Catalina's water system be shifted to Edison's electric ratepayers.

In August 2012, the CPUC issued a Ruling suspending the proceeding to allow parties to settle issues of dispute.

Division of Ratepayer Advocate's (DRA) Policy Position

On May 14, 2012, DRA submitted comments in response to the CPUC’s Proposed Decision stating that it:
  • Supports the PD’s decrease in revenue requirement increase.
  • Opposes the PD’s solution to shift costs to Edison’s electric customers who receive no benefit of improvements made to Catalina’s water service (additionally, Edison electric customers have received no appropriate notice of proposed rate increases as required by the CPUC).
  • Recommends the CPUC spread the rate increase over a 3-year period to mitigate rate shock to Catalina customers.
See DRA's May 16, 2011 preliminary testimony in response to Edison's revenue requirement request for the Catalina Island.

See DRA's December 17, 2010 protest to application.

Current Proceeding Status

In April 2012, Administrative Law Judge Barnett issued his Proposed Decision in the General Rate Case, which upheld Edison's alternative rate proposal, allowing it to collect $10.7 million from its state electric ratepayers instead of from Avalon ratepayers.

In reaching his decision to pass $10,700,000 of Edison's Rate Base to electric ratepayers, ALJ Barnett noted that the "water system primarily serves . . . visitors," that the effect on Edison's electric ratepayers would be "de minimis," and that Catalina ratepayers, who currently are paying the highest rates in California, facing a doubling or more of their current bills, "would welcome the relief, as was made clear at the public hearing."

The CPUC issued its final decision, basically taking the AJ's recommendations, on Thursday, June 26, 2014.
  • Notice of Name Change

    On September 26, 2013 the governor of California signed SB 96, which among other things, changed the name of DRA -- the Division of Ratepayer Advocates to “ORA - the Office of Ratepayer Advocates.”
  • ORA'S Mission
    DRA's statutory mission is to obtain the lowest possible rate for service consistent with reliable and safe service levels.  In fulfilling this goal, ORA also advocates for customer and environmental protections. 
Note: The Consortium is trying to acquire the water company from Edison and turn it into a public owned water company.  The Consortium is composed of  the City of Avalon, the Catalina Island Conservancy, the Santa Catalina Island Company, the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce, the Hamilton Cove Homeowners Association, the campgrounds represented by Guided Discoveries and condo and apartment owners represented by the Conference of Catalina Condos and Apartments.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Von's Approval Delayed Until August 4, 2015

At the April 7 City Council meeting, the Vons appeal hearing date was pushed back to August 4 (on a 2 to 1 vote) from the scheduled April 21 date due in part to questions about the water allocation for the new Vons store.

The initial appeal hearing date was set for March 17, but due to public concerns over the environmental impact and the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) of the project, the appeal hearing was pushed back until April.  This delay offered Avalon a chance to revise the MND, re-circulate it for public comment and make further analysis on the project.

We oppose the delay(s).  These delaying tactics are commonly used to kill projects.  Delay it long enough and it will die. Concerns and questions have been asked and answered and this project should move forward with all deliberate speed.  Moreover, the water allocation transfer appears to be perfectly reasonable to us.  This delay of the appeal is supposed to allow the City Council to get more answers about the project and allow the council to schedule a hearing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in July.
Front view of new Von's store

A council member and three Avalon residents sent letters to the CPUC requesting an audit of Southern California Edison’s water allocation practices for the Vons project.  The CPUC forwarded their letters to the Department of Water and Audits (DWA), which conducted an investigation into Edison’s allocation practices and found that “there were no violations of SCE tariffs at the time the decision was made.” Despite the audit’s findings and response, one council member wasn’t ‘sold’ and he felt that further analysis of the situation was needed.

Initial water allocation estimates for the project were made when Avalon was in Stage 1 water rationing. Edison originally was going to allocate new water to the project from the existing fresh water supply.   Now, in Stage 2 rationing, Edison couldn’t honor that allocation and the project needed to find a source of water.

Currently, the project, as approved by Edison, is planning on transferring water from the Wilcox Nursery and the Golf Gardens, which are both owned by the Santa Catalina Island Company, to the new Vons location. The Golf Gardens will stay open but the Wilcox Nursery will be closing. The Island Company offered the water to Vons for the project.  The idea of transferring water from these locations was heavily opposed by a few residents in attendance, who voiced that it looked as though Vons was getting preferential treatment.  (The Catalina Islander, 4/10/2015, Avalon City Council Meeting, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce)

New Von's Store: Why Beacon & Sumner

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In October, 1894, the Banning Brothers - William, Hancock and Joseph - incorporated the Santa Catalina Island Company, placed title to the Catalina Island land holdings they had acquired two years earlier into their newly-formed company, and then started building for the future. The Banning's planned to develop the island as a resort, and much of the initial development of Avalon took place during their ownership.
When William Wrigley Jr. acquired a majority interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company from the Banning's in 1919, the destiny of the Island began to change forever. This now-historic event cast the die for permanently preserving substantially all of Santa Catalina Island in its natural state. During the next 56 years, various conservation practices were initiated by the Wrigley-led Santa Catalina Island Company, including much-needed animal controls, protection of watersheds and reseeding of overgrazed areas.
The vision of the Santa Catalina Island Company is to be recognized as a leader in providing exceptional individual and group experiences to our guests and visitors, and be a respected business partner with our employees, suppliers and community.
The Santa Catalina Island Company uses their resources (human, physical, financial and natural) in a sustainable manner to implement the highest quality plans, design and developments that create properties of enduring value. Along with other stakeholders they are committed to preserving the natural beauty and unique character of Santa Catalina Island. In Avalon, Two Harbors and other holdings they will work to develop a master planned, quality island community which preserves the island's history, culture and authenticity.  (Santa Catalina Island Company)

Catalina Island Conservancy

The mission of the Catalina Island Conservancy is to be a responsible steward of our lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation.

Founded in 1972 as a non-profit organization, the Catalina Island Conservancy is one of the oldest private land trusts in Southern California. It protects 88 percent of Catalina Island, including more than 62 miles of unspoiled beaches and secluded coves—the longest publicly accessible stretch of undeveloped coastline left in Southern California. Catalina Island is home to more than 60 plant, animal and insect species found nowhere else in the world. It is visited by more than one million people annually. More than sixty thousand school children each year visit camps on Conservancy lands. (CIC)

Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies

In October 1995, the University of Southern California received a grant from the Wrigley family to expand the scope of their USC Marine Science Center at Fisherman's Cove to include environmental sciences, hence the name change to the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. The lab was renovated in 1996 and the dorms in 1997.

The hyperbaric and decompression chamber is operational for emergencies (divers with the bends). Expanded educational programming includes classes for USC and California University students, the USC Sea Grant Program/Island Explorers which includes curriculum and an overnight visit for K-12 students, and Elderhostel. Postdoctoral fellows and other scientists are conducting ambitious new environmental research projects.  The mission of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies is to encourage responsible and creative decisions in society by providing an objective source of marine and environmental science and fostering an understanding of the natural world among people of all ages.

Our affiliated faculty conduct research in all aspects of the environment. Wrigley Institute scientists investigate biological adaptations to climate change, study interactions among humans and natural systems, and connect science to environmental policy. We also offer unique educational programming and work with foundations and the public to enhance environmental awareness. (USCWIES)

Catalina Island Water System

Water Sources on the Island SCE provides water through pipelines, reservoirs, wells and tanks to both the East End, which includes Avalon, and the West End, which includes Two Harbors. Communities at White’s Landing, Airport and Toyon/Gallaghers Cove are served locally by wells at each of these locations.

Avalon residents and visitors use roughly 400 acre feet of water annually (Approximately 130,000,000 gallons per year). The used water is a combination of both fresh water used in town and is derived via Southern California Edison from the alluvial wells connected to Thompson reservoir and saltwater via our saltwater toilet system. Used water is piped to the wastewater treatment facility near the Edison power plant and is processed to a degree where it is considered clean enough to pump out into the ocean along Pebbly Beach. In essence, Catalina throws away roughly 400 acre feet of water annually, a significant portion of which could instead be recycled and reused many times over for use in watering plants, rinsing off property and sidewalks, washing cars and flushing toilets.


Thompson Reservoir Thompson (Middle Ranch) Reservoir: The East End’s main source of fresh water comes from the Thompson Reservoir. It has capacity of about 1,149 acre feet (1 acre feet=325,851 gallons). Fresh ground water is drawn from the aquifer connected to the reservoir using three groundwater wells in Middle Ranch and sent to Pump Station 2. The water is aerated and chlorinated and then pumped to Wrigley Reservoir and the Baker Tanks for distribution to the city of Avalon and the rest of the island’s East End.

Desalination Plant Desalination Plant: Ocean water is pumped through sea water wells to the desalination plant, located at the Pebbly Beach Generating Station in Avalon. The desalination plant uses the reverse osmosis process to make the water fit for drinking. This water is used to augment the fresh water supply for the town. When operational, the plant’s maximum daily output is about 200,000 gallons. Water for the island’s West End is provided by ground water wells located at Cottonwood, Sweetwater and Howlands Landing.

(SCE, The Catalina Islander, 12/19/2014))

Monday, April 6, 2015

Poseidon Desalination: Carlsbad, Huntington Beach & Catalina

The Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach should be approved.
Poseidon should consider building a large desalination plant on Catalina Island next.
The energy-intensive desalination plant  would create 50 million gallons of fresh water per day.  Southern California is in the grip of a severe drought, with climatologists, water experts and even NASA scientists releasing alarming reports about the depletion of the region's groundwater supply. Poseidon is very close to getting a permit to break ground on the facility.
In January, the Orange County Water District (OCWD), one of the many municipal bodies helping to manage Orange County's water resources, told its staff to work with Poseidon to negotiate a rate sheet to buy all 56,000 acre-feet of water per year it would produce (one acre-foot is approximately 300,000 gallons, or enough water for three average California families of four to use for about a year). 
The site of Poseidon's proposed desalination project sits just across the Pacific Coast Highway from the sand and north of the Santa Ana River's outlet into the Pacific Ocean in Huntington Beach. The facility would share the lot that houses the AES natural-gas-fired Huntington Beach Generating Station. The new plant would sit in the back of the lot, adjacent to a storm-water discharge channel and away from beach view.

One hundred million gallons of seawater would flow through Poseidon's pumps each day, first through screens and meshes to remove sand and other debris, and then put through a series of reverse-osmosis filters, removing the salt. Fifty million gallons of brine, twice as salty as intake seawater, would return to the ocean, as the other 50 million gallons of water would be added to Orange County's water system, enough to provide for approximately 7 percent of Orange County's water needs.
The plant's original 1998 design piggybacks on already-active seawater intake and outtake pipes used by the AES power plant to cool its steam generators. Critics say this will be bad for the environment because -they take in and kill more than 80 million fish eggs annually, according to a 2013 report by the California Coastal Commission (CCC).  This number is infinitesimal compared to the total number of fish eggs in that area of the ocean.

In 2010, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted a policy that would phase out these intakes for coastal power plants by 2020. And therein lies a major problem for Poseidon. If the desalination facility is constructed using current designs, those outdated intakes and outtakes would stay functioning for an additional 30 years, and the positive environmental impact that would be gained from the closing of the pipes would be lost.
The company has agreed to study the feasibility of proposed alternate intakes. The study is currently in the second phase and has identified two possible alternatives to the open water intake.
Water produced by the plant would be almost twice the price of water imported through the state water project, and the cost has only been climbing. In 2003, Poseidon estimated that its water would cost approximately $800 per acre-foot compared to $250 per acre-foot for other sources. That price has climbed to an estimated price of $1,850 per acre-foot in 2014, after accounting for a $250 per acre-foot financial incentive from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), with the possibility of a 25-year incentive of up to $340 per acre-foot from the MWD, according to a January 2014 report by OCWD. Current treated water imported by the MWD costs $840 per acre-foot, for comparison.
The Poseidon Carlsbad plant that is currently under construction would produce 50 million gallons per day, just like the Huntington Beach plant, but the water would cost between $2,014 and $2,257 per acre-foot, with a guaranteed return of between 9 percent and 13 percent built into the rate, depending on operation costs. Construction is expected to finish sometime in early 2016, with the first batches of desalinated water delivered soon after that.  (OC Weekly, 3/11/2015)