There’s a reason why Woodward Park sprinklers were watering grass in the middle of one of the heaviest storms in Manteca in more than a year — municipal crews were checking for water leaks.
City Manager Karen McLaughlin told council members Tuesday night that Parks and Recreation Director Kent Fant said workers during the Feb. 28 storm decided to don rain gear to make annual sprinkler line checks.
The decision to do the check in the rain for water leaks, plugged heads, cracked pipes and to fine tune sprinkler sprays was made “because it was raining and too wet to do much else.”
Bulletin reader Kim Fraga snapped photos of the Woodward Park sprinklers running during a downpour and noted that Parks and Rec workers were present but did not make an effort to turn them off. The photos appeared in Tuesday’s Social Spotlight on Page A3 of the Bulletin.
Staff indicted the workers were turning on and off lines around the picnic area and the park’s entry and not in the retention basin that was collecting storm runoff. Work crews were also only doing the lower volume spray heads and not the larger rotors. McLaughlin noticed “the employees were trying to use their time wisely and meant well.”
The lines were each on for short periods of time to minimize water use. The overall effort was to avoid turning on park sprinklers that may have problems when the irrigation season starts and wasting water
Councilman John Harris followed up on McLaughlin’s report by re-emphasizing concerns expressed by South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Jeff Shields that Manteca’s biggest worry is water for next year. Shields has emphasized conserving water this year is essential for adequate supplies next year if the drought continues.
Harris implored city residents to step up their voluntary water conservation efforts.
Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January and asked all Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent.
That same month Manteca established a new record for water use for the month of January by consuming 245 million gallons of water.
Manteca resident Richard Hanson asked the council why they were allowing development to continue and therefore increase the demand for water at a time when farmers who need water to grow crops and make a living were being told to go without water deliveries.