The Library Park water play feature that has remained dry for 3.5 years except for when Mother Nature opens up the skies is symbolic of the challenge facing Manteca and other California cities.
Even if the lingering drought dissipates communities need to adjust to the new reality of tightening water supplies. Besides Mother Nature’s whim there is the state mandate that groundwater pumping in a given year not exceed what is returned to the basin, state designs on surface water for fish that is likely to impact municipal supplies and the pressures from growth.
It is why Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum wants the city to step up examining ways that Manteca can adjust to the new realities and make water use even smarter.
Tonight the City Council is considering Councilman Mike Morowit’s nominee of Al Moncada to fill a vacancy on the Water Conservation Citizens Committee. The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
DeBrum is hopeful the committee will examine water uses present and future to come up with more programs — passive and otherwise — the community can implement to keep a lid on water use.
“We need to be smarter when it comes to water,” DeBrum said.
And one of the tasks the committee could be asked to work on is under what conditions the city’s $450,000 water play feature at Library Park might be turned back on in the future.
Retired City Manager Karen McLaughlin more than four years ago ordered the water play feature turned off as the California drought deepened. That was months before the state handed down a blanket order for all non-circulating water features throughout California to be turned off.
In 2009, the water play feature dumped 2 million gallons of water into the city’s storm drain. Based on Manteca’s current per capital daily water consumption of 139 gallons what the water play feature used in 2009 was enough to meet the annual water needs of 40 Manteca residents.
It would cost $500,000 to retrofit the play feature to recirculate water
Retrofitting the feature to recirculate water to slash use by up to 90 percent would cost $500,000. That’s because it would require an expensive treatment system based on the state’s assumption youth using the feature will sometimes pee as they do occasionally in swimming pools. It also would require the installation of a shower for kids to use before they get into the water play feature. That would pose other problems given the city’s efforts to keep illegal uses out of the parks. Cities can legally restrict the age of those that use water play features. However, that hasn’t stopped the homeless in other cities from using showers connected with water play features or shower-like features incorporated into the design.
Then there is the issue that the $450,000 water play feature was the centerpiece of a $1.2 million Library Park expansion and upgrades designed to bring more people downtown.
Manteca Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joann Beattie hopes by next spring the city may consider adopting guidelines for when the water play feature can be turned on assuming the drought doesn’t get worse. Nearby cities implemented policies based on the day of use and the temperature this past summer that allowed their water play features to be used.
DeBrum agrees that is something the city needs to look at.
Ripon turned back on their Mistlin Sports Park water play feature with such rules in place as did Turlock. The interactive water feature in Ripon uses up to 2,000 of gallons per day. The Ripon interactive water feature was opened Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the summer months. It went to a two-day a week schedule, going on Saturday and Sunday once classes resumed in August. The water play feature is being shut down for the fall and winter months starting today.
Beattie was hoping the play feature could at least be used during special events such as the Tuesday farmers markets when the temperature gets above 90 degrees. Some have suggested limiting its use to weekends or weekdays or only allowing it on for special events in the summer.
Mayor says moisture sensors are among things needing a look
DeBrum said the citizens committee could brainstorm other options such as if there was an economically feasible way to use the play feature water for irrigation along the Tidewater Bike Path.
The mayor would like to the city to rethink everything to do with water. That could include getting even smarter with landscaping or requiring moisture sensors to be connected with irrigation systems in the front yards of new homes as well as at new parks as is happening at River Islands at Lathrop.
DeBrum noted that while he appreciates efforts that have been made so far he believes there are other ways that water can be used smarter.
If Manteca maintains per capita water usage that they had in 2015 of 139 gallons a day, the city’s water use forecast will have no problem meeting a state target of 179 gallons of water a day being used by every Manteca residents on a per capita basis by 2020. However pending groundwater restrictions and long-range efforts to re-allocate more water for fish may reduce available water significantly especially as the city grows.
Last year’s use was a 28 percent reduction in per capita consumption in 2013. By comparison Manteca’s average daily use between 2003 and 2007 was 221 gallons per capita.
Manteca has 15 potable water wells and 31 irrigation wells that draw from aquifers that extend down to 600 feet. At 600 feet and lower there are more water tables but they have salt water in them.
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