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More savings needed as Manteca falls short of goal
Lake Oroville is currently at 1,097,883 acre feet of water or 31 percent of its 3,538,000 acre feet of capacity. The largest reservoir in the State Water Project is at 48 percent of the historic average for Sept. 2. The photo show todays water level at the Oroville marina. - photo by Photo Contributed

Manteca reduced irrigation of municipal parks to allow overall water consumption in August to drop 11 percent over August 2013.

Manteca, however, is still failing to meet the 20 percent cutback that Gov. Jerry Brown requested of all urban water systems in a bid to help California weather the severe drought that appears heading for a possible fourth consecutive year.

Manteca’s August drop came in what is historically the second heaviest month for water use in Manteca and the fact the number of single family homes with landscaped yards due to new construction increased 1.5 percent over last year.

“The parks department worked at reducing water,” Public Works Director Mark Houghton said.

It was a combination of cutting the amount of watering drawn from the city’s potable underground and surface sources and additional higher wells that tap into non-drinkable water being put to use.

Houghton also said evidence points to residential and commercial irrigation being pared back as well. Flows to the municipal wastewater treatment plant — where all other water that isn’t used for irrigation and outside uses goes after it is used — declined 3 percent. That drop represents a reduction in everything from toilet flushing, washing machines, showers and baths to dishwashing and water left running while brushing teeth and washing hands. 

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More conservation efforts being proposed

Houghton said at the Sept. 16 City Council meeting he will be asking elected leaders to consider obtaining software that will provide water customers with not just the 12 previous months of their water use in the bills as they are now receiving but also will include a year-to-year comparison of the last month’s water use. For example, water bills sent out this month for August would show the current use plus the use from August 2013. Currently the bills only reflect use back 12 months of September 2013.

Houghton said it will give water customers a way of gauging how well their water conservation efforts are going.

Staff is also working on other water conservation proposals.

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Manteca used 513.2 million gallons in August

 There was 513.2 million gallons of water used in August. That’s down 11 percent from August 2013 when Manteca used 575 million gallons.

It is the second straight month Manteca has reduced water use. Manteca used 557.395 million gallons in July. That was down 10.4 percent from July 2013 when Manteca used 610.777 million gallons.

The July water use report from the City of Manteca Public Works Department contrasts with June when the city reduced water use by 20.4 percent. Manteca went from 631 million in June 2013 to 502 million gallons in June 2014. Water use dropped in May by 8 percent going from 534 million gallons in May 2013 down to 490 million gallons in May 2014.

Gov. Jerry Brown called for urban users to reduce water consumption by 20 percent when he declared a state of emergency when California started its third consecutive drought year in January.

Manteca did exceed the directive from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District to cutback surface water use by 20 percent last month compared to the actual level of consumption in August 2013. Manteca’s surface water use was down 27.83 percent to 699.89 acre feet. Lathrop cut their surface water use back 21.69 percent to 37.63 acre feet while Tracy reduced their SSJID water consumption by 21.32 percent to 952.36 acre feet.

The SSJID expects to have 2,500 acre feet of their water allotment for the current weather year left when it ends on Sept. 30.

Water experts have warned if rainfall and snow pack is normal or above normal this coming wet season that the drought will still persist and get slightly worse. But if there is a fourth dry year, many regions in the state will start experiencing acute water shortages.

South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Jeff Shields has noted unless there is an above normal year coming up for precipitation, significant cutbacks would take place to water deliveries to both urban and water users. The SSJID provides treated water for Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy as well as farm water for more than 72,000 acres.

He has repeatedly cautioned farmers and urban dwellers alike not to waste water and to cut back this year in the event the drought continues next year.

“Once you use the water you can’t get it back,” he told the Manteca City Council earlier this year in a presentation about the severity of the drought.