Article from the 10/14/2016 Catalina Islander

Since becoming "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet cruise ships and cross channel carriers, I have answered 57,334 questions.
If you want to check out any of my past column submissions, as well as check out some of my past more interesting/unusual questions/comments,
Every now and then I am happily surprised and honored to hear from some of my more notable readers.  Phil Hagenah, great grandson of William Wrigley, Jr.,  informed me that his grandfather, Philip Knight Wrigley,  only had one "l" in his first name and liked to be called "Phil" and NOT "P.  K." as I had put in one of my recent column.  Gloria Swanson Hayes, the owner of the beautiful red home on the E. terrace overlook of the harbor, and the widow of one of our dentists, Jim Hayes, has shared some very interesting information about their lives on and off the Island.  THANKS Phil and Gloria!
Last Saturday I worked with Karin Hague and other fellow Rotarians and enthusiastic members of the local Interact Club, the high school branch of Rotary, to help clean up Avalon Canyon area.  I had the "Field Of Dreams" and it filled up a large trash bag.
The 3-hour PBS documentary, 'WEST OF THE WEST", covering the history of the channel islands, with a very good segment on Catalina (including yours truly), is only available in Avalon at the "Steamer Trunk" and the "DC-3" (Airport).  If you don't live on Catalina, send me a check for $23, P. O. Box 1533, Avalon, CA 90704, and I will send you a DVD.
Ever notice that Jim Watson, Capt. Doug Fetteroll, and Jessica Scofield have color pictures of themselves on their columns, while mine is black/white!  Maybe I am thought to look better that way!
I believe that God can use Chinese "Fortune Cookies", if He wants!  My fortune Tuesday night read, "Your talents will be rewarded!"  Jan Ning, at my favorite restaurant, soon to close, "Mr. Ning's", informed me that two couples at lunch that day said how much they enjoyed my column and so paid for my dinner!  "You made my day!"  I hope you won't want the money back after you read this column! LOL!
"There are those who look at things the way they are and ask "Why?"  I dream of things that never were, and ask "Why Not?"  Robert Kennedy quote,  loosely borrowed from George Bernard Shaw.
It is with a certainly amount of uneasiness that I write this particular article.  My usual format is to be light, humorous, entertaining, nostalgic, and motivating, but never controversial.  I feel uncomfortable when those of us in the public eye decide to promote an agenda.  I never thought that I would use what credibility I have to suggest possible answers to a very serious problem here on the Island, but when someone reminded me the name of my column, I realized that in certain circumstance, I am probably expected to change my usual course.  In the matter of Catalina's fresh water problem, I think that this is definitely one of those exceptions!  We are not privileged to be able to get additional water from melting snow in the Sierra Mountains, rivers, aqueducts, or other sources that the cities/towns just hours away from us on the mainland are enjoying, so I guess our plight is definitely ONLY ON CATALINA!  I need to make one thing very clear.  I am NOT writing this representing either the "Islander" newspaper, the Chamber Of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, or any other agency or individual,  I am writing this as a long-time and concerned native of Catalina Island!
For those of you who do not live on Catalina, but are reading this on your way over by boat or helicopter or are receiving this at home and now feel less confident about wanting to make Catalina your vacation destination, HAVE NO FEARS!  Except for our island being a little browner than usual, restaurants asking you to pay a minimal fee for bottled water, hotels asking you take shorter showers by humming the "Minute Waltz", instead of the entire soundtrack to "The Sound Of Music", and dirty cars (mine is the aqua and orange striped '71 VW Van, if you would like to complain about anyone in particular), you will find that we will be greeting you with open arms, smiles, less stress and congestion, clean streets, and possibly a stronger whiff of deodorant than you are used to.  Realize friends that the troubling conversation we are presently having on Catalina Island will likely be repeated around the country and the world and possibly in your region.  Hopefully EVERYONE will be able to benefit from our "turning lemons into lemonade".  Above all, many men and women, a LOT more intelligent than myself and versed more in these issues, are now stepping up to the plate!  As things are mostly still in the discussion stages, I thought I might add my personal unconventional perspective to this problem and hope that it might shake things up a little more and present more options.
I am going to explore a little history of our water situation.  As far back as the 1890's, Avalon's sewage system utilized salt water (I believe EVERY city fronting on the ocean should do this as well as go on desalinization, to free up land water for the inland communities.  Salt water in the toilets save approximately 25-40%).  At this time, salt water was considered very therapeutic and so most of our homes had hot/cold salt and hot/cold fresh water systems in our bathrooms.  People would bathe in the salt water and then rinse off with the fresh.  This practice continued well into the '20's and later with some homes.  Salt water in our sewage system continued until Southern California Edison took over our water facilities in the early '60's.  Our population was considerably much smaller than today.  No previous long sustained droughts had caused a severe water shortage, so we were placed on fresh water for the first time.  Things went well until the early 1970's when our last MAJOR drought caused us to quickly go to phase 3, which is what we are experiencing now.  But instead of the present 40% cutback we are subjected to today, it was a 50% reduction of what I recall based on our water usage the same month the previous year.  As we had no desalinization system then, alternate means were devised, including cloud seeding, which proved ineffective.  As I was Chairman of the Planning Commission in 1975, I was directed by the City Of Avalon to take on the additional role of Chairman o the newly formed Water Committee as we were having to look at what Phase 4 was going to look like, which had NEVER been considered before!  WHAT FORM WOULD THIS TAKE!?!  Along with my Vice-Chairman, Bill Bushing, we held a number of public hearings to determine what course/s we might take.  Finally, in March, 1976, with NO LET UP OR RECOURSE, I was prepared to make the following two recommendations to the City Council and thus the people of Catalina.  What I am sharing now has NEVER made it to print and only a handful of people were privileged to these decisions. As Avalon was heading into Spring Break, and the facing of a major additional consumption of fresh water,  we would have to take one of two directions:  1) Vacate the Island (people can't survive without water), or 2) Tow an iceberg down from the Artic and syphon off it! (global warming in that part of the world would eliminate even that as an option today!).  As I was ready to get my notes together and have my one way ticket off the Island, as I was DEFINITELY going to run out of town on a rail, it rained harder and longer than most of us EVER remember before!  The Island was once more saved and I dodged the embarrassing bullet of having to share these two most unconventional and unpopular decisions!  The need for a desalinization plant was recognized and implemented when Hamilton Cove development was being considered.  They were the ones that provided the original system, not only for themselves, but to ease the problem for the other citizens of Avalon.  Keeping this fact in mind, it is ironic to realize that Hamilton Cove is not presently receiving any water from the plant they originally paid for and so has to cut back 50%!
That leads us up to NOW.  We have gone through four years of severe drought.  Nothing close to the 12-15" of rain that we "normally" received.  Even last Winter, which was supposed to deliver the "Granddaddy of ALL 'El Nino's", we received less than half a foot of water while most of the rest of the country was complaining about TOO MUCH RAIN!  Next year is predicted to be a "La Nina" season; a drier year than the one past!  Nothing short of a divine miracle, as was in March, 1976, will get us out of our predicament, if we are depending on rain alone.  We have tried to sink new wells, with little result,  We have attempted to get our two desalination plants running to capacity, only to have more restrictive regulations inflicted upon us from Sacramento, regarding the amount of salt and silt that can be reintroduced back into our ocean as a result of this process.
Initially we have to find additional ways of  conserving.   Developing a way to utilize gutter water when/if we get any measure rain in the near future.  Moving up to more modern and water saving washing machines if they are 10 or more years old or are top loaders.  Collect water usually wasted by commercial ice machines.  Collecting condensation from our hot water heaters and air conditioners.  Reinstitute the tried and true use of rain barrels for collection purpose. Capture water in buckets, while showering; the clean to be utilized for cooking, the grey water for plants and non-consumption purposes. Shower with your dog, unless you are too embarrassed!  Do laundry, wash dishes, and water plants after 9PM.  Will put less pressure on the system and will cut down evaporation with the greenery.  Buy more clothing, especially underwear, so to stay clean, but have to do less wash loads per month.  Send your dirty clothes to the mainland to be laundered or have them washed by family/friends while you are visiting them.  If these solutions are shown to be impractical, utilize our Island's commercial laundry facilities as they have already invested in these adjustments. 
One of my MAJOR concerns is the established allocation process dictating how much each household gets, based on having to cut back 40% of water usage used at every household with the baseline being June, 2012-May, 2013.  Hamilton Cove and those living outside of Avalon's city limits are imposed a 50% cutback, because they are not able to utilize our desalinization system. How many residents are now living in facilities which they DID NOT inhabit three years ago?  I am one of them and yet we are being controlled by it!  Were those previous inhabitants conserving or not conserving water?  This, of course, goes for those who do live in the same facility.  For those who conserved fresh waster diligently, including myself, are being penalized by having to conserve 40% of less water used than their neighbors who possibly paid no heed to the problem and so are having a much higher baseline for their 40%!  The "good guys" suffer the most and the others sacrifice the least!  Then you have the 65 units at Bahia Vista Condominiums that are all on one meter, so they are not having to be accountable by individual housing units as the rest of Avalon.  THIS TYPE OF REGULATION WILL ONLY CAUSE DISCOURSE BEWEEN NEIGHBORS!  We have enough problems without having to deal with this scenario!  We should ALL be allocated the same number of gallons/per person/per household/per month; REGARDLESS of how good or bad servants of our water usage we were three years go.  LET'S GET A FRESH START!  I was told that this is not possible. When we were on fresh water in our toilets, there was a formula devised by Edison that could pretty accurately determine how many residents lived in a household.  Now that we are back on salt water, it is my understanding that this type of calculation can no longer be made.  LET'S GET REAL!  If we could successfully land a man on the Moon 47 years ago, with less technology than we presently possess in our IPHONES, then I think that we can get our 21st Century brains together to find a way to determine how many people live in each household!  As we are facing severe water problems, initially asking each household for these numbers might be an original idea.  As we are ALL facing the same problem together, I would hope that honesty and transparency will be brought into play, even in this election year.  We are a caring, loving, rational and functioning family and we should act as such!  We should be looking out for each other at this precarious time in our short history.
Long term, we are an island SURROUNDED BY WATER!!!!!  DUH!  We need to produce as much water as we can through desalinization and have as large a storage capacity possible so we are prepared for the possibility of something temporarily/long tem going wrong with these systems.  If this doesn't meet our needs with a larger population and more visitors, then we have to consider getting our water from other sources.  Cruse ships are floating desalinization plants!  They obviously produce their own water.  We are blessed with at least two "Carnival" cruise ships each week that produce enough water for over 3000 passengers and crew.  While they are in our port, hopefully we can find a way to transport their water into our holding facilities while their passengers are on shore enjoying our beautiful Island.  I heard it said that this process can't be done, but I understand that they have had a least one port of call in the Florida Keys where water was transported from the land water source to the visiting "Carnival" ship.  If they can go from land to ship, then why not ship....!?!  IMAGINE THE TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF POSITIVE PUBLICITY "CARNIVAL" WOULD RECEIVE HELPING TO SAVE ONE OF THE ISLANDS THEY VISIT!"!  To help to make Islanders more responsible and less dependent, the use of personal desalinization systems should be permitted.   We also need to seriously consider removing water from our atmosphere through dehumidifiers that capture the potable output.  This process NEVER pollutes and it NEVER depletes our atmosphere.  There are individuals, as well as businesses in town, including the Chamber Of Commerce & Visitors Center,  that already use this process. 
Some of the major stumbling blocks for these possible scenarios come out of Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Washington, D,C.  There are regulations galore that inhibit us from making major progress. Consider a second that the majority of our visitors come from Southern California which is being represented by our county, state, and national representatives.  These precious visitors need Catalina as a location to easily get away from the stress and hustle of the mainland and we need  them to help us survive as a tourist community.  If we find it necessary to restrict the number of visitors coming here, due to water producing restrictions and sanctions, it will not only have a major impact on our economy, but will GREATLY disappoint these elected officials' constituents and could be reflected on election day.  Will we have to consider limiting the population of Avalon?  Due to our unique situations, Catalina has already long been the recipient of lessening of restrictions.  Golf carts running on our roads and our ability to collect state gas tax, although we restrict vehicles, are just two examples of our unique situation.  AS WE HAVE NO OTHER OPTIONS, NOW IS THE TIME TO ALLOW US SOME MAJOR CONCESSIONS ON REGID RESTRICTIONS!!!!! 
CATALINA IS NOT A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY!!!!!  We are a major tourist destination for one of the world's wealthiest countries, only an hour away from one of the world's largest populations.  With all of the great promotion and advertising generated through the Catalina Chamber Of Commerce & Visitors Center, the Santa Catalina Island Company, the Catalina Island Conservancy, local businesses, and especially word of mouth, visitation is reaching the one million persons a year mark again as we enjoyed before 2007.  Now is NOT the time for Catalina to give up or pull back.  Now is the time to use the brains that God gave us to solve a problem which will probably be affecting the rest of the world in our lifetime.  We will eventually be watched and scrutinized by everyone else.  How we come out of this is in our capable hands.  We are survivors!  LET'S SHOW THE WORLD WHAT SANTA CATALINA ISLAND IS MADE OF!
I encourage any comments/thoughts/observations, positive/negative concerning this article  I will happily print as many as I can in subsequent issues.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.m  We can chose to be either part of the solution or part of the problem.  I, as well as my column, plan to stay around as long as needed to assure that solutions are found and implemented!