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Tough Manteca balancing act

Lawn complaints: Some water too much, some not enough

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Tough Manteca balancing act

These two North Manteca homes show contrasting responses to how lawns are watered with the state’s call for a 20 percent reduction in water use.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/


POSTED July 28, 2014 12:15 a.m.

Manteca has entered the green versus yellow lawn quandary.

Complaints are flowing into city hall about people overwatering lawns and flooding gutters in violation of a state edict to deal with a third year of severe drought. At the same time complaints have increased about dead lawns.

And while some of the offenders are foreclosed homes such as one on Powers Avenue north of North Street that has dead, dried grass almost 6 inches high, most yards the city is receiving complaints about have lawns where people have opted to stop watering in a bid to meet Gov. Brown’s emergency request to slash water use by 20 percent.

“It’s clear Manteca residents are taking the call to conserve water seriously,” noted City Manager Karen McLaughlin last week. “As a result, City staff is receiving calls from adjacent homeowners expressing concern about the condition of some of the lawns in their neighborhoods. The City’s Municipal Code does require plants to be maintained as needed ‘to preserve the health and appearance of plant materials.’ This doesn’t mean lawns need to be as lush and green as they are in non-drought years. But a little water just a couple days a week can go a long way to keep the lawn presentable and still alive, should individual homeowners wish to keep a lawn in the future.”

It also reduces the risk of a potential fire hazard. Thank you to everyone who has helped Manteca reduce overall water consumption beyond State recommendations. Through re-thinking what we do and how we use water, we can continue to reduce demand while still keeping our neighborhoods attractive and safe.”

Manteca in June reduced water consumption by 20.4 percent. The city went from 631 million gallons in June 2013 to 502 million gallons last month. That slightly exceeded the governor’s request for a 20 percent reduction.

And while no one apparently has been cited yet this year for water waste, violating city conservation rules, or for allowing their lawns to go yellow and brown because of the drought the pressure may be on for the city to do so.

Last week the South San Joaquin Irrigation District informed Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy they would receive only 20 percent of the water they used last month in August and September for the upcoming two months. That is in response to the district’s own water supplies being tightened due to the drought.

Manteca’s use of SSJID water actually went up 1 percent last year as the city scaled back on pumping water from its 15 municipal wells.

The city will shift more water production to wells starting this week to meet the SSJID mandate that will be enforced when a city exceeds its allotment by shutting down supply values for the offending city. Manteca relies on the surface treated water to reduce arsenic levels at several wells primarily in the northern part of the city.

The State Water Resources Control Board earlier this month approved fines up to $500 a day for residents who waste water on lawns, landscaping and car washing, as a report showed that consumption throughout the state has actually risen amid the worst drought in nearly four decades.

The action by the board came after its own survey showed that conservation measures to date have failed to achieve the 20 percent reduction in water use sought by the governor.

The fines will apply only to wasteful outdoor watering, including watering landscaping to the point that runoff flows onto sidewalks, washing a vehicle without a nozzle on the hose, or hosing down sidewalks and driveways.

State officials said city and suburban residents are not fully aware of the seriousness of the three-year drought — the worst in California since the mid-1970s.

The board estimates the restrictions, which take effect in early August, could save enough water statewide to supply more than 3.5 million people for a year.

Cities and water districts were given wide latitude on how the fines will be implemented. The full $500-a-day fine, considered an infraction, could be reserved for repeat violators, for example. Others might receive warnings or smaller fines based on a sliding scale.

The rules include exemptions for public health and safety, such as allowing cities to power-wash alleyways to get rid of human waste left by homeless people, to scrub away graffiti, and to remove oil and grease from parking structure floors.

If fines fail to promote conservation, the board would consider other steps such as requiring water districts to stop leaks in their pipes, which account for an estimated 10 percent of water use, stricter landscape restrictions and encouraging water agencies to boost rates for consumers who use more than their share of water.

Cities and suburbs use about 20 percent of the state’s water, with about half going outdoors.

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1 comment
fjar: 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Comment:
It's clear to me that this city places the entire emphasis on residents in saving water.The bulletin news is dominated by increased drought conditions, while this council approves of more homes to draw on the receding water table.It s/b obvious to the residents, that the council relies totally on the people to save water.People are asked to cut water usage and penalized if they don't, while this council does nothing to conserve water. They approved of more homes while we are asked to conserve.Wake up people, this means you are compelled by this city to save water, so they will have enough for the new homes they approved of. This is not a blanket effort by this city to save water, for businesses are exempt from the water conservation plan, so is this city.To date this council and city has contributed very little to the conservation of water in this city.

Manteca City Manager tells us residents are taking conservation seriously. It's a good thing someone is complying, for the city isn't doing much to help.She didn't caution this council in voting to approve of more homes that puts more stress on the limited water supply that is receding rapidly.

Manteca residents should realize we are being discriminated against by this council.We are the only ones relied upon to save water, while this council exempts Developers from code changes to save water. Car washing business are exempt from installing a recycle process to save water. The idea is, don't encumber businesses and the city, by including them in the conservation program.It's to easy to force the residents into participation.

J. Harris and Willie Weatherford doesn't care about the drought conditions, for they are retiring.More homes are approved by McLaughlin and this council, while they do nothing in conserving water.It's pretty sad, when you have a City Manager that want speak up to this council and tell them no more homes, while residents are compelled to let their lawns die.

Residents need to pour out to vote and rid this council of incumbents that have treated residents secondary to business interests. Manteca residents failure to vote, means they want more of this kind of representation. In my opinion this council should withdraw support of new homes in these severe drought conditions.

Droughts are here to stay and much of the Wests rivers are drastically receding.

This council doesn't run this city,Developers,consultants and other interest runs this city.This authority is vested into Special Interest by them contributing large sums of money to incumbents, to stay in office. We need new faces on the council that's interested in us, not monetary kickbacks.
My vote will be for change, Cantu and Silverman.

Residents are excluded from having much of a say in City Government, so turn out to vote and restore your voice in this city. Remove these incumbents, who have ignored the people for 4 consecutive terms.

Fleener Richards.




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