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City Council: Conserving water now way of life

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POSTED May 17, 2017 1:12 a.m.

Never do it on a Monday.
And never do it between noon and 6 p.m.
The “it” is watering your landscaping.
Drought or no drought those are words to live by in Manteca going forward.
Water conversation is the new norm in Manteca.
Five weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to the five-year drought elected city leaders unanimously agreed with municipal staff that it would be unwise to act as if Manteca — and a large swath of California — doesn’t has a Mediterranean climate that borders on desert-like weather.
“Our measures (for water conservation) are reasonable,” Councilman Mike Morowit said.
Manteca allows landscape water three days a week. Some cities were forced to cut watering down to two days a week such as Ripon or once a week. In some San Joaquin Valley communities all outside irrigation was banned between Nov. 1 and April 1.
He noted that people have been able to keep their grass green.
“You never know what next  year (in terms of rain and snow) will bring,” Councilman Gary Singh.
Manteca in 2016 cut its water use 27 percent over 2013 levels. The state had assigned Manteca a target of 28 percent. Last month, the city’s water use was down by 40 percent compared to April of 2013.
Councilman Richard Silverman pointed out with the record snowpack — it was 191 percent of normal in the Central Sierra as of May 1 — high rivers, and reservoirs near capacity that some people may think water is plentiful.
“All of that water is just going to flow out into the ocean,” Silverman noted as he pointed out the state has developed no new water storage of consequence since the mid-1960s when there were 23 million less Californians.
Conservation statewide even before the drought had helped to stretch water supplies.
Manteca, as an example, has reduced water consumption by 20% since 2006 despite adding 12,000 residents. The city used 4,675 millions of gallons of water in 2006 compared to 3,759 million of gallons in 2016.
While part of the savings is reflected in low-flow, high-efficiency toilets as well as water efficient washing machines that are among the top three residential indoor uses of water along with showers and baths, the bulk came from the city’s effort to switch irrigation of its 300 plus acres of parkland from the domestic water system to shallower wells that tap non-potable water. The primary driving force was to reduce the water bill the parks department incurs from the inter-department charges for treated water.  It also reduced the need for dropping deeper and more expensive drinking water wells and expanding the portion of Manteca’s water from the surface water treatment plant. It also had the bonus impact of increasing water pressure given park irrigation takes place over night and also early morning hours when people are hitting bathrooms preparing for the day.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead said she was pleased to see most new homes being built in recent years in Manteca employing rocks and low-water use landscaping with little if any grass.
The driving force behind Manteca’s reduced water use over the past three years has been educating residents not to waste water irrigating landscape.
City staff has estimated that as much as half — if not more — of Manteca’s domestic water is for yards with the primary use being to keep grass green.
Mayor Steve DeBrum, along with the rest of the council, lauded the efforts of the citizens’ water conservation advisory committee. He expressed hope that they will continue meeting although perhaps on a less frequent basis.

Manteca’s water rules
The stricter water rules that were adopted fpr Manteca residents and businesses 23 months ago are as follows:
uNo irrigation is allowed during or within 48 hours following measurable rainfall as defined by storms that generate run-off or puddles.
uNo watering is allowed on Monday or any day between noon and 6 p.m. Watering for even addresses is on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while odd addresses can water on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.
uNo watering will be allowed on any day at any time for washing off sidewalks, driveways, patios, parking lots or other exterior non-landscaped areas without a permit obtained from the Manteca Public Works Department office at the Civic Center.
uNo water will be allowed to flow into a gutter or other drainage area for longer than 5 minutes. All water leaks or malfunctions in plumbing or irrigation systems must be fixed with 24 hours.
Penalties include a written notice on the first violation; a $100 fine with applicable fees on the second violation that may be waived by attending a water conservation workshop; a $200 fine and applicable fees on the third violation; and $500 fines for each and every subsequent application plus applicable fees.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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