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Flush less: Save water & money?
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Manteca’s existing water saving rules go into place next Sunday
The City of Manteca Water Conservation program coincides with Daylight Savings Time.

 Each year the program officially begins on the second Sunday of March and remains in effect until the first Sunday in November.

1. Residences and businesses with odd-numbered addresses may water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but not between Noon and 6 p.m.

2. Residences and businesses with even-numbered addresses may water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday but not between Noon and 6 p.m.

3. Every address may water on Sunday, but not between Noon and 6 p.m.

4. You may run water to fill a swimming pool, only on the days and during the hours allowed for your address.

5. Cars, trucks and boats may be washed on the days and during the 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 car washes are not restricted in the days and hours they operate.

6. 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.

7. No water will be allowed to flow into a gutter or other drainage area for longer than 5 minutes. Water leaks, breaks, or malfunctions in the user’s plumbing distribution system or irrigation system shall be repaired within 24 hours after discovery.

• First time violation results in a letter or a warning notice.

• A second violation will earn the water abuser a $50 fine.

• A third violation will earn the water abuser a $100 fine.

• Any further violations will bring misdemeanor charges.
The day may come when not flushing your toilet when it is just “mellow yellow”, switching from baths to more short showers, and buying high efficiency washing machines may actually allow you to save money on your residential sewer bill.

It is all part of a comprehensive water conservation planning and strategies being sent to the Manteca City Council for consideration on the heels of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declaring a drought emergency in California.

The governor, in response to three straight years of drought and drastic cutbacks in deliveries from the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, is calling for a cross-the-board 20 percent cut in water use. That way freed up water can be shifted to help harder hit regions in the state.

The term “mellow yellow” surfaced in the 1976-77 drought when several water districts in the state - including Marin County – were running on almost empty when it came to water. They were asking customers not to flush the toilet if there was no solid waste to flush. An average toilet at the time used 3 to 5 gallons per flush. The average flush volume today of toilets is 1.98 gallons. Newer toilet technology has the potential to use just 1.68 gallons.

The biggest residential users for water are toilets, landscaping, washing machines, and baths/showers.

One of the suggested strategies is to go to block pricing for sewer for residential customers as the city has done for water. It is designed to encourage residents to either convert to lower water use toilets or to take other measures such as minimum flushing strategies.

Such a move could also have another positive impact – extending the capacity of the city’s expensive wastewater treatment plant that is costing $52 million to retrofit and upgrade to meet new state standards.

The city could also mandate the replacement of pre-1992 toilets when homes resell, mandate residential water audits when starting water service and requiring high-efficiency appliances and water conserving landscaping for new construction. Some developers, such as River Islands at Lathrop, are mandating the placement of moisture sensing devices in all landscaping to minimize water use.

There are a number of other strategies that staff is seeking council input on as new rules or ordinances for elected leaders to consider adopting as municipal policy.

The city could also make residential water use surveys available to anyone who requests them. It would include providing a water saving kit with low flow shower head, faucet aerators and hose shut-off valve plus provide a rebate or one time utility bill reduction. Participants could also get rebates for installing water efficient fixtures and/or repairing leaking fixtures.

Besides requiring new customers to have a residential water survey conducted, the council could also require it of any customers with excessive use and even mandate it for all customers on a 5 or 10 year cycle.

The city could also provide rebates for fixture replacement on pre-1992 homes that have not upgraded to water conserving bathroom and kitchen fixtures.

The city is already starting to switch to a number of parks over to their own wells to irrigate grass and landscaping. Parks are the biggest water users in the city. The wells draw from a shallow water table that has non-potable water.

The city could also put incentives in place to encourage the promotion of efficient landscaping.