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Drought Could Force Catalina Restaurants to Use Paper Plates

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Catalina Island, like the rest of California, has been hard-hit by this years-long drought and is being forced to make major water cutbacks. But unlike so many water-guzzling areas, they've actually been going beyond what's already been asked of them, cutting consumption by 30 percent instead of the required 25. Regardless, their water utility, Southern California Edison, is expected to raise the island to the next, even stricter level of rationing in October (from level two to level three), which would mean, among other things, that "even the best restaurants will use paper plates to avoid washing dishes, construction projects will be put on hold, and hotels say they will be forced to close laundry services and shutter rooms," which could mean layoffs in a small community where most work multiple, tourism-dependent jobs, says the LA Times

Eighty percent of Catalina's water comes from a desalinization plant, with the difference made up with groundwater. Because water's precious, hotels have been shipping their laundry to continental California, and concrete for construction projects is made with water that comes in by boat all the way from Wilmington. But now that the next stage of water restrictions is looming, residents are turning angry eyes toward some recent projects that have been touted as economy-boosting, but that also seem to be hugely water-guzzling, like the newly opened spa that advertises its large, plentiful showers.

Tourism, which has long driven the economy in Catalina, seems to be a big part of the problem, as "aggressive conservation does not exactly make for a relaxing vacation," as the New York Times wrote last year, right around the time when the "draconian" 25-percent cutbacks went into effect on the island.

Another massive development/potential tourist magnet, the $9-million Catalina Island Museum, can't move forward at all because of battles over water; a city law won't even allow the project to be hooked up to water during levels two, three, or four of water rationing. "I want to see that museum open," a Catalina councilmember says. "But not at the cost of everyone else having to take three-minute showers and families not having enough drinking water."
· Building boom and drought collide on Catalina Island [LAT]
· Catalina Getting Fancy: Museum Overhaul, Spa, 120 New Houses [Curbed LA]