The Sahara Desert returned to Manteca on Monday.
Steady winds in the 18 to 22 miles per hour range with gusts recorded as high as 32 mph kicked up a lot of dust in Manteca.
Nowhere was it worse that along Atherton Drive just west of Main Street.
This is the area that a frustrated former council member Debby Moorhead dubbed “the blowing sand of the Manteca Sahara Desert” four years ago when she was pushing for the city to address dust control issues on windy days.
Most of the dust comes from a strawberry growing operation on the northwest corner of the intersection. On Tuesday the property owner had sprinklers going trying to keep the sandy loam soil from becoming airborne. Unfortunately there weren’t enough sprinklers to cover the entire area.
A “sand fence” was helping somewhat but still piles of sand hid the curb and gutter in places while airborne sand reduced visibility on Atherton Drive.
But the biggest complaint from homeowners to the south was from someone who decided Monday in the middle of high winds was an ideal time to plow a field across the street from the new Atherton apartments in a bid to control weeds.
Manteca in 2000 declared airborne dirt and dust a public nuisance and health problem after developers building homes in west Manteca prepped large swaths of land for construction. It required “all persons owning, leasing or occupying real property within the city” to maintain their land to prevent “airborne transportation of sand, soil or dust from their property to be deposited in visible quantities on neighboring property.” The city even put an emergency ordinance in effect for six months that allowed the washing of sidewalks, driveways, patios, parking lots and other non-landscaped areas in the effected neighborhoods west of Union Road on specific days to remove dust and dirt.
Many residents complained about going through pool filters, the walls of homes being coated with dust, and not being able to open windows. The dust was so bad that runoff from lawn watering and clearing the dust from houses and landscaping caused mud to build up in some city storm drains.
Two decades later Manteca is still getting caught flat-footed when the forecast calls for strong winds.
There’s a drought but positon to
address water conservation is vacant
We are clearly in a drought yet Manteca’s position charged with enforcing water conservation has been empty for months.
Making matters worse is when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared 14 months ago the city suspended its free program to assist residents with sprinkler system timers.
Readers in several parts of Manteca including Del Webb at Woodbridge indicate gutter flooding is prevalent.
Deputy City Manager Toni Lundgren indicated working to address water conservation is a high priority for the city. Hopefully that includes not just filling the vacant water conservation position but also reinstating city help to adjust timers given about half of the city’s water use is for landscaping with the majority of that going to water lawns.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com