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Water cops getting word out: Don’t waste water

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POSTED March 25, 2009 4:52 a.m.

Getting the word out on conserving water might be a good idea.

Two people were spotted hosing down driveways and sidewalks while three other households had a steady stream of water running into gutters and into storm drains during a mile-long swing through East Manteca at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

It is against city rules to clean concrete by hosing it down and it is illegal to both water lawns between noon and 6 p.m. when water evaporation is at its peak as well as to let water run down gutters.

The quick windshield survey underscored the importance of getting the word out about conserving water in the midst of a statewide drought emergency declared earlier this month by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Manteca Police – through its small army of Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police volunteers – is gearing up to remind violators of the mandatory conservation rule that had been in effect since March 8. In the case of habitual violators, code enforcement or police officers will be called to instruct wasters to cease and desist. It could also lead to a citation.

Gross water violators will have a code enforcement officer, police officer or another qualified municipal worker issue a citation. If there is a need to stop water flow to stop the waster, police will work directly with the water department.

“The City of Manteca is very aware of the water issues we are faced with today in our community,” Manteca Police Public Affairs Officer Rex Osborn e-emailed in response to a question. “We find most water infractions are not intentional but because people don’t realize they are wasting due to equipment issues such as broken pipes and overwatering areas.   With those violations we will make an attempt to contact the party involved and just inform them of the need to evaluate their water usage.”

Osborn indicated SHARP volunteers on their regular patrols will be asked to keep track of water violations so the city can follow through.

“As the water restrictions become more restrictive we will adjust our enforcement as needed,” Osborn said.
 
Earlier Tuesday, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District board agreed to explore joining forces with municipalities and other districts throughout the county to coordinate the message to avoid water waste as California enters its third year of drought.

The SSJID is taking its role as stewards of what is arguably California’s most precious resource – water – to heart. They have already set aside money to help the cash-strapped City of Manteca get out the water conservation message.

And now, even though the district is one of the few that expects to be able to receive 100 percent of its allocation from the Sierra runoff, it is gearing up to do whatever it can to conserve water in a bid to position themselves to be able to send water elsewhere in a bid to help other Californians who are trying to save jobs and crops while dealing with record low water supplies.

“Just because we (SSJID) have 100 percent of our allotment doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods,” SSJID General Manager Jeff Shields pointed out Tuesday during the district board meeting. “There are parts of California in dire straits.”

The drought emergency declared by the governor opens the door for easier transfers of water between the “haves” and the “have nots”. The district board is expected to evaluate how much water they have in July so they can make what is being conserved for other areas.

March figures from the Department of Water Resources show runoff is 45 percent of normal compared to 60 percent of normal last year. Reservoir storage is 70 percent of average statewide compared to 85 percent last year at this time.

The two linchpins of the water system – the Bureau of Reclamation’s Shasta Dam and the State Water Project’s Oroville Dam – are at 60 and 55 percent of average, respectively, in terms of storage.

SSJID board member John Holbrook brought forth the proposal to work with other agencies through the Stockton Area Water Suppliers Group to coordinate efforts and share strategies.

This is the first drought SSJID has taken an active interest in urban users understanding the importance of conserving water as they now supply domestic water to Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy.

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