It wasn’t high noon but for water evaporation and landscape irrigation it couldn’t come at a worst time.
As the temperatures headed toward the high 80s at 3 p.m. Monday the landscaping along Atherton Drive in front of the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley was being watered. A fairly good-sized stream of water was flowing down the gutter and into a storm drain.
The City of Manteca’s water conservation rules that prohibit watering from noon to 6 p.m. are in effect. The South San Joaquin Irrigation District has asked the cities that use their water to conserve as much as possible so water savings can be sent elsewhere in the state in light of the state of emergency as California has entered its third year of drought.
Watering in the heat of the day is bad enough as there is a higher evaporation rate plus vegetation “shuts down” to a degree to protect itself against moisture loss so they absorb less but the overflow into the storm drain system is considered a major source of water waste.
“It doesn’t make sense to have rules that are put in place for a good reason and not enforce them,” Mayor Willie Weatherford said.
The landscaping that is being watered is directly across form where the city allowed contractors to kill off extensive swath of shrubs and flowers when they failed to maintain them as required during the Atherton Drive widening project.
That failure to keep the contractor on track is promoting critics to question the wisdom of the city assuming day-to-day maintenance of existing landscape maintenance districts.
The Manteca Police are using the Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) volunteers to help with enforcement by noting where there are violations and alert code enforcement or police of persistent violators.
Weatherford likes the idea of using volunteers and employing police to ticket the consistent offenders after they are warned but he thinks it is time to go a step further.
He would like to see the city have several employees in both the water department and fire department take the required 40-hour class needed before an individual can issue tickets for a misdemeanor.
“It makes sense to have those workers who understand the importance of the problem writing the tickets,” Weatherford said. “Water guys know what the issue is and firefighters have e areal concern about water pressure being adequate to fight fires.”
Weatherford didn’t elaborate the threshold he’d favor to have a ticket written but some cities give residential users a warning first but immediately issue tickets to non-residential accounts that violate water conservation rules.
In the East Bay, they have deployed people to work full-time going after water use violators.
Manteca’s mandatory conservation rules have been in effect since March 8. In the case of habitual violators that are located by SHARP, code enforcement or police officers will be called to instruct water to cease and desist. It could also lead to a citation.
Gross water violators will have a code enforcement officer, police officer or another qualified municipal worker to issue a citation. If there is a need to stop water flow to stop the waster, police will wok directly with the water department.
“The City of Manteca is very aware of the water issues we are faced with today in our community,” Manteca Police Public Affairs Officer Rex Osborn e-mailed in response to a question in March. “We find most water infractions are not intentional but because people don't realize they are wasting due to equipment issues such as broken pipes and overwatering areas. With those violations we will make an attempt to contact the party involved and just inform them of the need to evaluate their water usage.”
Osborn indicated SHARP volunteers on their regular patrols will be asked to keep track of water violations so the city can follow through.
The basic water conservation rules for the City of Manteca are as follows:
•Residences and businesses with odd-number addresses MAY water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but NOT BETWEEN noon and 6 p.m.
•Residences and businesses with even-numbered addresses MAY water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday but NOT BETWEEN noon and 6 p.m.
•Every address MAY water on Sunday, but NOT BETWEEN noon and 6:00 p.m.
•Use a broom, NOT WATER to clean sidewalks, driveways, patio and other non-landscaped areas.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org