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Silverman: Conserve taxes

Expanding water committee duties could prove expensive

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POSTED June 8, 2017 1:18 a.m.

Talk isn’t cheap.
After municipal staff indicated it could cost thousands of dollars a year to convert the ad hoc citizens water conservation committee into a standing city committee with possible expanded water-related advisory roles, Councilman Richard Silverman doused his colleagues’ enthusiasm for such a move by pointing out the costs could go as high as $60,000 based on broad information they were provided.
Silverman said that while he appreciated the work that the group has done, he wouldn’t be in favor of keeping the panel in place as a standing committee with expanded duties if it ended up costing into the five figures to do so.
Silverman added that some of the expanded advisory roles staff suggested the water committee could deal with — storm water, recycling wastewater, ground water, and surface water — are all extremely technical. The councilman added that he did not believe an advisory committee would have the expertise to provide input on such endeavors that deal with complex state and federal mandates.
The issue of whether to disband or expand the water conservation advisory committee came up during Tuesday’s council meeting. The council had asked the committee for input on whether they felt the committee should continue or be disbanded give the drought is over. The committee recommended keeping the advisory panel in place. Staff added two additional recommendations for the council to consider: disbanding the panel or expanding their duties.
Mayor Steve DeBrum opted to delay a decision on whether to turn the advisory panel into a standing committee until the July 5 council meeting at which time he asked staff to produce more precise cost estimates based on hourly staff time needed to prepare for and attend water committee meetings.
Everyone else on the council indicated they were leaning towards making the committee permanent and possibly expanding its scope until Silverman zeroed in on staff cost etsimates.
After the meeting, Silverman said he’d be open to keeping the committee as a standing panel if they simply continued with the same duties to seek new ways the city could encourage water conservation. In such a scenario Silverman said he wouldn’t expect the committee to balloon into a big cost item.
 The council last month made it clear that water conservation is here to stay. Rules adopted during the drought regarding use and restrictions have been left in place.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead said she has been receiving positive input from citizens about rebate programs that encourage water users to buy water efficient toiles as well as washing machines plus convert high water use front yards into landscaping that is comparably miserly with water.

Manteca water use in
May was 17% lower
than it was in 2013
Manteca in May used roughly the same amount of water it did in May of 2011 despite adding more than 7,000 residents.
When compared to May of 2013 — the base year of water use the state issued city-by-city water reduction goals for, Manteca’s water use was down almost 17 percent.
Manteca was given a 28 percent reduction goal to shoot for by the state during the five-year drought.  The city cut its water use 27 percent in 2016 over 2013 levels.
Last month’s consumption of 444 million gallons of water was a 20 percent increase from May of 2016.
Trends show April water use has decreased every year since 2013 while May use has climbed back up in the last two years.
The council’s decision to keep the stepped up water conservation measures in place is a concession to Manteca’s arid claimte.
Then there are supply issues facing the city such as restrictions on groundwater pumping, state attempts to commandeer South San Joaquin Irrigation District water that helps provide surface water to Manteca in a bid to increase fish flows, and future droughts.

Manteca’s water rules
The stricter water rules that were adopted for Manteca residents and businesses 24 months ago and are still in effect 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 water 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 violation plus applicable fees.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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