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Catalina Island Has Gotten So Much Rain That It's Dropping Its Drought Measures

Boats moored near the short of Catalina Island (Photo by Beth J. Harpaz/AP)
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As we all know, Los Angeles and the surrounding areas have had lots and lots and lots of rain this winter. So much rain, in fact, that this week, Southern California Edison announced they're lifting mandatory conservation requirements for residents and businesses on Catalina Island.

In a statement, the company announced that water levels at the island's Middle Ranch Reservoir have reached full capacity. The decision ends years of drought fighting efforts on the part of island dwellers.

Water rationing on Catalina Island began in 2014, when residents were asked to adopt mandatory conservation efforts -- such as only watering landscapes on certain days -- in an effort to reduce their consumption by 25 percent.

In 2016, water levels at the Middle Ranch Reservoir dropped to 11 percent of capacity, and SCE began asking their customers to reduce their water consumption by between 40 and 50 percent.

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During those efforts, SCE imposed citations and fines for water waste.

Robert Villegas, a spokesperson for SCE, says that Catalina residents were extremely proactive and successful at reducing their water use.

"Folks on the island know very well what a precious resource water is," he says. "Even though we were requiring them to reduce by 25 percent overall [in 2014], customers reduced their consumption by 40 percent."

Villegas added that residents took steps like washing their dishes in buckets and then using that water to water their plants, and that some restaurants began only providing bottled water, rather than tap.

"It was extraordinary efforts from hotels and restaurants on the island, and residents taking pretty stringent measures" to reduce the amount of water they used, he said.

Since the Middle Ranch Reservoir is back to capacity, all required conservation efforts are technically ending. But Villegas adds that it never hurts to continue to be conscientious.

"The more responsible we are with the water," he says, "the better off we will all be."

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