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Drought poses thorny issue for councilman

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POSTED January 30, 2014 1:31 a.m.

John Harris’ wife wanted to buy 10 roses.

But after talking it over, the Manteca councilman and his spouse decided against it.

“We may not have the water this summer we need to water them,” Harris said. “I suspect we might even have brown lawns this summer.”

Harris and other council members will hear the city staff’s initial response to the deepening drought emergency during Tuesday’s 7 p.m. meeting at the Civic Center council chambers, 1001 W. Center St.

Water experts warn that anyone expecting whatever rain falls in the San Joaquin Valley or snow that dusts the Sierra during today’s storm to put a big dent in the drought will be severely disappointed

“At this point, we don’t really know how serious it will be,” Harris said of the third year of drought.

But he was quick to add not having a plan in place and waiting too long to do anything if the situation warrants it could bode ill for Manteca and the rest of California.

Governor Jerry Brown has asked for all Californians to immediately curtail water use by 20 percent when he declared a statewide drought emergency. The South San Joaquin Irrigation District the week prior to the governor’s proclamation gave the cities of Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy the heads up to expect a 20 percent reduction in water deliveries this year. The district believes they can squeeze by this year with the current weather pattern but 2015 is doubtful.

Regardless of how the current drought pans out, Harris believes it is imperative that Manteca — and the rest of California — look for additional ways to enhance water supplies over the long term.

Harris said there is a need for additional conservation measures, additional reservoirs, and other water strategies to combat the state’s cycle of droughts and floods.

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