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Tighter water rules possible

Existing Manteca conservation plan deemed inadequate

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POSTED February 21, 2014 1:21 a.m.

Watering yards every other day during restricted hours and doing such things as employing quick-acting nozzles to wash cars won’t cut it when it comes to Manteca residents conserving water.

It is why Public Works Director Mark Houghton indicated this week that municipal staff is drafting a new set of water use restrictions for the council to consider imposing in a bid to reduce Manteca’s water consumption by 20 percent.

It is in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s request that all Californians cut water use by 20 percent to help the state weather the third consecutive year of drought.

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District has told the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy to expect a 20 percent reduction in surface water deliveries. The SSJID board on Tuesday is also considering the extraordinary step of closing Woodward Reservoir to recreation this summer. Such a move would allow a lower lake level and reduce enough losses from seepage and evaporation to supply 9,000 acre feet of water for an irrigation run for farms served by the district.

While Manteca can fall back on its wells, there is a growing concern throughout the San Joaquin Valley that additional pressure on aquifers ultimately will make it next to impossible for them to be replenished over the years.

Ripon, which relies entirely on wells, is also moving to cut water use by 20 percent. The Ripon council is doing so to comply with Brown’s request as well as to make sure they protect their underground water source for future use.

Manteca’s existing water conservation rules go into effect on March 9 when Daylight Savings Time starts.

However, Councilman John Harris made it clear at Tuesday’s council meeting he believes conservation needs to start now and not in 16 days.

It is possible new water conservation proposals could be before the council at their March 4 meeting.

Houghton did not elaborate what changes could occur in Manteca’s water conservation rules.

One thing that is out of line with surrounding cities is the fact all Manteca residents can water their yards four days a week. Odd addresses can water Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Even addresses can water Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Watering is prohibited from taking place noon to 6 p.m.

Other cities restrict their residences to three days a week with no one being allowed to water on Monday. The rest of the week is rotated between odd and even addresses.

Other existing Manteca rules include:

• you may run water to fill a swimming pool only on the days and times allowed for your address.

• cars, trucks and boats may be washed on the days and hours allowed for your address, but only when using a quick-acting, positive shut-off nozzle on the hose or by using a bucket and sponge. Commercial carwashes are not restricted in the days and hours they operate.

• no water use will be allowed on any day, at any time, for washing off sidewalks, driveways, patios, parking lots, or other exterior non-landscaped areas.

• no water will be allowed to flow into a gutter or other drainage area for longer than five minutes. Water leaks, breaks or malfunctions in a user’s plumbing or irrigation system shall be repaired within 24 hours after discovery.

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