Drought-Stricken California Island to Increase Fresh Water Supply

Catalina Island will defer, and possibly avoid, 50 percent water rationing with the expansion of a new GE Desalination System to produce up to an added 150,000 Gallons of water per day by treating the concentrated seawater from the existing desalination reverse osmosis system.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, Catalina Island, California, is in the middle of a severe drought with residents and tourists potentially facing a mandatory 50 percent cutback in water usage. To help alleviate the water shortage, Southern California Edison (SCE) is expanding its desalination plant on the island using GE's desalination technology that will convert seawater into clean drinking water.

GE is supplying its SeaTech-84 seawater reverse osmosis (RO) system, part of GE’s Procera seawater solutions for desalination, to SCE. The SeaTech system is a containerized desalination system, which will be configured for continuous operation, treating unusable seawater into a new, clean source of fresh water. GE’s SeaTech-84 is a modular system designed for a fast delivery and simple installation. The equipment, arriving in Catalina in mid-August, will be operational in September 2015.

“Our residents and businesses have already made substantial water usage cutbacks to help conserve this precious resource during the drought,” said Ben Harvey, city manager, City of Avalon, California. “The new desalination unit will significantly increase our freshwater supply and hopefully stave off additional water usage restrictions.”

The island's current water supply comes from local wells, supplemented by the desalination plant located at the SCE Pebbly Beach Generating Station. The existing desalination facility produces up to 200,000 gallons of water per day, and with this GE expansion, the overall future capacity will increase to up to 350,000 gallons of water per day.

Catalina Island is a popular tourist destination. The island is 22 miles long and 8 miles wide and has more than 4,000 residents and 700,000 visitors annually. In August 2014, SCE implemented 25 percent water rationing for Catalina Island.

“Even an island in the Pacific Ocean can experience a severe drought. Catalina Island has an immediate and urgent need for additional fresh water. The GE SeaTech-84 seawater RO desalination system is a smart choice for Catalina Island due to its fast delivery and set up so that the island can begin using the additional fresh drinking water during the summer tourist season,” said Yuvbir Singh, general manager, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water.

GE has a long history of manufacturing, installing and operating desalination systems and its global installed capacity is over 264 million gallons per day of fresh drinking water.