Catalina Island and SoCal Edison’s Desalination Plants Are Quenching Thirst

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Southern California Edison’s (SCE) first desalination plant on Catalina Island. The desalination process strips salt out of ocean water from two underground saltwater beach wells to make it drinkable. The desalination plant was considered a developing technology in 1992. It was the first ocean water to drinking water plant on the West Coast and one of the first prototypes in the country.

SCE built the first desalination plant in response to the development of the nearby Hamilton Cove condominiums and the drought in the late 1980s.

Two LA Cities Are Innovating Their Way Out of Severe Drought Restrictions

There are two schools of thought on how to navigate the West’s historic drought: Use less water or find new ways to make more of it usable. A few cities are trying to do both, and so far, it’s spared them from some of the most stringent drought restrictions.

In the last drought, Santa Monica used to rely heavily on water imported from Northern California. But now less than half of Santa Monica’s water is imported, which spared them from the mandatory outdoor water restrictions that began at the beginning of June.

Catalina Island Uses SoCal Edison Desalination Plant to Avoid Drought

If you take a boat ride to Catalina Island, you’ll notice it’s surrounded by the ocean.

“We’re about 4,000 people on a year-round basis, but we get up to a million visitors a year, and so of course that impacts a lot of our infrastructure because we have these visitors and thank God we do because we’re an entirely tourist-based community,” said Avalon Mayor Anni Marshall.

L.A.’s Coast Was Once a DDT Dumping Ground. No One Could See It — Until Now

Not far from Santa Catalina Island, in an ocean shared by divers and fishermen, kelp forests and whales, David Valentine decoded unusual signals underwater that gave him chills.