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Grass: Fading to yellow, brown
Manteca council keeps watering at 3 days
Spreckels Park adjacent to the BMX track is more yellow and brown these days than green. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca is showing its true colors.

As green is rapidly giving away to yellow and brown on lawns across Manteca, the City Council on Tuesday decided to continue allowing residents and businesses to water three days a week — at least for now. With the latest conservation numbers showing Manteca is closing in on a state mandated 32 percent  cutback, elected leaders opted to stay the course but made it clear a cutback to watering only two days  a week is still a possibility if Manteca doesn’t hit its water reduction goal. April water use in Manteca was 30 percent below 2013 levels despite a growth of 2,200 residents. That is a significant improvement from March when water use was down only 16 percent.

Lawn irrigation in past years consumed nearly 60 percent of all water used in Manteca. Up until October it was OK to water four days a week in Manteca.

The council last month put in place a long list of water conservation moves including the hiring of “water cops” to help educate the public and  — if necessary — force compliance through ticketing. The positions are expected to be filled just in time when summer hits and water use shoots up. On Tuesday the council added two more water saving moves. One allows people to let their lawns die for the duration of the drought. The other waives fees that commercial property owners would have to pay if they opt to deviate from previously approved landscaping so they can plant drought resistant shrubs.

The council passed on a pool cover rebate program as well as a proposed requirement for existing homes being sold to have drought resistant landscaping in place before they can close escrow under new city rules for front yards.

While the City Council  believes Manteca is close to striking the right balance for water consumption, some think the city hasn’t done nearly enough.

Sarah Ahrens was among those advocating even more drastic steps.

She implored the council to not allow any new connections for water service until such time the drought ends and supplies rebound.

Manteca in March cutback water use 16 percent over 2013 levels.  That superseded nearby communities with the exception of Tracy that cutback 22.5 percent. Tracy has a 28 percent state-imposed mandate to reduce water over 2013 levels.

The Department of Water Resources noted the top 10 water saving cities was led by Livermore with a 31 percent reduction exceeding their state target of 24 percent. All of the top water misers are Northern California cities.

In contrast the 10 worst cities for water use in March were all from Southern California. La Habra was the worst in the state with a 7 percent gain in water use. Habra’s mandate target is 28 percent.