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Stop requiring sloped lawns, allowing more homes

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POSTED March 25, 2015 12:24 a.m.

Editor’s note: The Manteca City Council has promised to take action on April 7 when they meet to put in place tougher water conservation measures. After Councilman Mike Morowit said he’d like to see suggestions from the public, the Bulletin asked readers to share their thoughts about water conservation. If you have any suggestions send them to with “save water” in the subject line.


In Arizona, they had a moratorium for water meters. There was a long waiting list of people applying for one and the only way they would get one was if someone didn’t pay their water bill. In that case they pulled the meter and gave it to the next person on the waiting list who had been trucking water in to their home. The non-payer would then be living with a water truck. This was in Flagstaff and when the wind blew, you would feel sandblasted. There weren’t many people with lawns or flowers. In fact, we missed the colors of California. We would come back here and all of us were pointing at the beautiful colors of the gardens in California. Take heed and if you think it can’t happen, think again. 

I would beg for the water cops! It makes me sick to see what is left of my yard, and the extent we go to keep our water use to a minimum. I grew up in a family of four and a 14-foot well. We had a garden until we were hit with a drought and then we took showers with buckets and used dishwater to keep our most treasured plants alive. Just because it is always available when you turn on the faucet today doesn’t mean it will be there tomorrow. 

My neighbors have perfect lawns, nice and green. Yesterday (Monday) one was watering on his off day and his lawn mower was in the middle of it! The water was running across the sidewalk. I read that you saw all this kind of activity on a short round of errands you made the other day and we found the same. Washing sidewalks! How dumb is that?

Also, what about sloped lawns? Make the contractors put in retaining walls on elevated yards. Keep the water on the yard. The runoff from watering always crosses the sidewalks. With drought friendly yards, the dirt will also migrate into the gutters and will cause problems trying to keep drains flowing free. Retaining walls are a must! 

Santa Monica set a great example for Southern California. They had contaminated wells from oil wells and had to buy their water. They didn’t like the high costs of that so they started requiring all buildings to have rain barrels to collect the roof water for irrigating their yards. They had beautiful gardens and yards and saved a lot of runoff keeping them nice. Why waste drinking water? People like to point fingers at L.A. for ‘stealing’ our water, but the reality is, they get their water from other sources mostly and they have some cities that really can show us what we should be doing. We need to put our heads together and see what works. Disneyland had to drain the river in their big water ride and they sent it all into storage in a Fountain Valley water treatment plant until they made repairs, then the water treatment plant piped it back to them. 

A real irritation is seeing more new homes being built. We already have water problems facing the population we have now, and the city leaders encourage growth. But then, this is the same government that wring their hands over the issue, hire consultants, plant more landscaping, fail to monitor their own sprinklers, fail to water at the designated times. The rest of us are supposed to be the ones that should be looking to them for a solution. Maybe the Manteca Bulletin’s voice is more successful than our local leaders.

Like I said, let’s put our heads together and brainstorm this problem. If the City of Manteca can’t figure it out, let’s help!


• • •

Ideas: From making water bills easier to read to a waste tip line

Here are my thoughts on ways the city can take action to save water. I like the idea of “water cops”. They will not catch all offenders but should put a dent into the waste.

I think having a dedicated “tip” line would be helpful. I do not want to go up and ring a doorbell and say it is not your day to water, it is the middle of the day, or the water is in the gutters or you are washing the sidewalk.

The shopping centers like Target have a lot of grass around their property. Take out the grass and leave the trees and add bark, rock or drought tolerant shrubs. There are lots of places around town with small and large grassy areas that do make the areas more attractive but is time to change the way we use water.

I like the ideas of new homes having no grass or when a house is sold the lawn comes out and replaced with drought tolerant plants. 

The utility bill should be more understandable. It would be nice to know what a family of 4 is using in gallons not cubic feet. And then what is a reasonable amount to use per person so we have a better idea of our usage.

Paula Stallings

• • •

Think long term water shortage along with 10 suggestions

First and foremost, the water shortage needs to be seen in light of a longer term drought. We cannot assume next year’s rainfall amounts will exceed normal. Any action needs to be done with this in mind.

1. Yes, hire water cops and give them enforcement power

2. Only one warning — unless the violation is overly blatant and severe

3. Make fines increase in severity for repeat offenders

4. Eliminate the requirement for lawns for new homes

5. Have a staffer assigned to drought resistant yard landscaping to help homeowners and business owners

6. Give tax credits or some other incentive for people removing lawns and going to rock or drought resistant landscaping

7. An immediate 25% mandatory reduction. Special allowances could be applied for and reviewed by a city/citizen panel

8. No new swimming pools, or at least a cap on monthly new pool permits

9. Prepare a list of water saving tips for all homeowners and businesses, in every water bill mailing, and in the Bulletin

10. Mandate that farmers take steps to conserve water in their orchards by converting to drip lines better sprinklers — rather than flooding and widespread sprinklers.

John Vonhof

• • •

I enjoy your articles and found the one in Tuesday’s paper just another way to show how businesses are not being aware (or simply don’t care) of the severe water conditions of this state.

While going for a walk around the Del Webb Woodbridge community yesterday (Monday) they were watering the baseball field lawn on a non-watering day (1st base violation #1) 

Time was approximately 4 to 4:30 p.m. (2nd base violation #2)

Water flowing onto sidewalks and streets (3rd base violation #3)

So let’s see, if I have the violations correct that would be a triple play on March 25. Guess things come in 3’s!

P. S. Maybe they are just making sure the baseball field is nice and green for baseball opening day Saturday, April 4, (hey got to give the community a little plug for the upcoming event!)

Nancy McAlister

• • •

Three businesses have water running into street

This morning (Tuesday) on the way to work, I passed three businesses owned by Cardoza Enterprises. All three had water running in the street at the corners of Cottage & Louise, Main & Louise, and Union & Louise. Such a waste!

JoEllen Broderick

• • •

Manteca needs to stop building new homes

There is a drought, yes, but we are not out of water. The same amount of water God put here at creation is still here. The aspect of “water cops” is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 30s and 40s. Neighbors turning in neighbors because the water runs in the gutter, this is ludicrous. 

Police departments are over-worked “taking a bite out of crime,” you know theft, murder, abuse, etc. The biggies! Laugh if you will but this is how socialism raises its ugly head and creeps into our lives. 

Water to the farmer first, no farmer, no food, no people, no need to save water!

Then water to families, businesses, entertainment, etc. 

Stop building new homes! New homes means new water allocations, and if there is enough water allocations to allow new homes it stands to reason there is enough water to “allocate” to existing homes and businesses.

Reduce the size of government by using the laws already on the books. Use common sense! Stop making new laws and resurrect and obey those already written. 

 Do unto others as you would have them do to you and love your neighbor as yourself!

Take responsibility and turn the spigot off, for goodness sake.

In the words of Walter Shirer in the epigraph of his book, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1959) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Sandra L. Van Deventer

• • •

I disagree with the need for water cops as this city currently has forced water conservation on residents while they add more new homes to put further stress on our depleting water table. The Bulletin tells us of annexation plans of a large plot of land that is intended to add 356 new homes to our drought problem. I agree that a lot of residents have a flagrant disregard for the water rules. Meanwhile the council is inking more deals with developers for thousands of new homes is also a gross disregard for the on-going droughts we experience in California.

In order to justify more homes, this council has to explore ways of saving more water in new home construction. This council refuses to encumber developers, for they place taxes before water conservation. They are afraid developers will move out of Manteca. My question to them is, where could they build that would be as profitable as Manteca? The developers run this city, this is evident in the council giving in to a lying developer’s request to deviate from a previous construction plan recently. This is evident in issuing permits to build more homes, while our water table is declining rapidly. The low water table indicates we have surpassed the amount of water that this valley will support. Over population will spell disaster for this valley sooner than one thinks.

I have suggested a change in new homes many times to this council to save water. They haven’t even bothered to explore this. Instant on demand tankless water heaters is the recommended change. I also suggested running plumbing through insulated walls to retain the residual heat, instead of cold concrete which chills hot water in a short time. This is the root cause of long waits to receive water at the demand point. This council has turned a deaf ear to this water saving suggestion. Instant on demand water heaters has worked effectively for years in Europe. On the average, this unit lasts 20 years and is low maintenance.

Let’s dwell on another waste this city is responsible for. They want to penalize residents for water running in the gutter, while allowing developers to slope lawns towards the sidewalk and gutter. Some residents want the council to band water sprinklers — these fall in the category of village idiots. I will conserve water when this council stops over populating this valley and listens to suggestions that will help our drought situation. I don’t understand how people want to resort to a bucket brigade to take a shower, while this council and city shows flagrant disregard for suggestions that could save this city and others many gallons of water that could remain in the water table. I don’t see why residents resort to these drastic measures to save water, so this city can add more new homes to add to the drought problem. 

Fleenor Richards


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