Here in Laguna, two critical needs are about to collide. I’m not talking trolley fenders and skateboarders. No, the collision you are about to witness is between the city’s need to attract visitors vs. its need to conserve water. For a glimpse of possible things to come, take a look at what’s happening on Catalina Island.
Home to approximately 1 million tourists a year, Catalina is experiencing the full impact of California’s four-year drought now. According to the Avalon Chamber of Commerce, businesses and homes already have cut back their water consumption by 25 per cent, and may have to cut back another 25 per cent soon.
Overnight hotel guests are encouraged to skip taking showers and restaurants are charging customers 50 cents or more when they ask for a glass of tap water. If this wasn’t bad enough, people on Catalina pay up to five times more per gallon for water than their counterparts in Los Angeles.
I’m on record as saying there are three things that need to happen to help solve the state’s drought:
First, the governor needs to appoint a forward-thinking water czar. This person’s number one job is to secure California’s future. Clearly, this won’t be possible without new sources of water.
Second, this “out of the box” water czar needs to build a polar pipeline from the east coast and midwest to California. Forget the Keystone XL pipeline. We need to convert snow that’s far away into water here at home.
And third, it’s time to build several new desalination plants along the coast. Call it an employment act. I really don’t care how it’s described. Desalination plants are a necessary component of any new water plan.
Will the Laguna Beach Water District require local businesses and residents to reduce their water consumption even more this summer? Will restaurants be forced to charge for a glass of tap water? In the past, we have weathered the vagaries of Mother Nature vs. the need to grow our local economy. Working together, I am hopeful the city, water district and chamber will be able to avoid the collision that appears to be heading our way.
Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach
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