The days of kids rolling out the Slip ‘n’ Slide on the front lawn and hooking up the garden hose are numbered — at least for now.
At the same time lawns will be restricted to twice a week watering instead of the current three days. And that water will no longer be allowed to run off into the gutter for five minutes.
Instead, rules are being fashioned that will prohibit water from running off onto sidewalks — public and private — as well as driveways and onto neighboring property.
The Manteca City Council on Wednesday directed staff to proceed with a sweeping set of measures designed to reduce the city’s water use by 20 percent from 2020 levels in a bid to stretch supplies as the current drought is slipping deeper into its third year.
The new rules will be presented to the council when they meet Aug, 16 for adoption.
Given several members want the new measures in place as soon as possible, the ordinance on Aug. 16 could be an emergency ordinance. That means with a four-fifths vote the new measures would go into effect immediately instead of a month or so down thew road after a second reading.
“If we don’t get rain this winter, we are going to be in a world of hurt,” Councilman Charlie Halford noted.
It was a view shared by the rest of the council that provided a unanimous consensus for staff to proceed with crafting language to adopt the following rules:
*Allowed outdoor watering will be reduced from three to two days a week.
That means even-numbered addresses will be allowed to irrigate on Tuesday and Saturday. Odd-numbered addresses will be allowed to irrigate on Wednesday and Sunday. No irrigation will be allowed on Monday, Thursday, and Friday.
*Run-off from irrigating turf and such will essentially be prohibited.
The current rule allows for runoff into gutters for no more than five minutes. The new rule prohibits it from going onto sidewalks — public and private — streets, driveways, or adjoining property.
*Turf at commercial, industrial and institutional locations such as hospitals can no longer be irrigated with potable water except for carved out exceptions where it is used for recreation and such.
The new rules make exceptions for the golf course, Manteca Unified schools, and other locations allowed for under the state emergency order issued June 10.
*Prohibiting recreational activities that require a constant flow of water.
Staff referenced Slip ‘n’ Slides as one use that would be banned. It wasn’t clear whether that included large inflatable slides that are rented for kids’ parties that involve water flowing non-stop down the slides.
*Exempting City of Manteca golf course and facilities, Manteca Unified School District, private parks, and other landscaped areas greater than 4 acres from the scheduled watering days.
*Exempting landscape irrigation exclusively using drip or micro spray systems from the scheduled watering days.
*Restricting evaporative coolers without a recycled pump.
The city ordinance calls for a warning on the first offense, a $50 fine on the second offense, a $100 fine on the third offense, and a $250 fine on every offense thereafter.
During the 2015 drought, the city slapped $1,200 plus on one homeowner before they complied with the rules.
As part of their enforcement effort, the city has just added a hotline (209-456-8410) for citizens to call to report violations of the drought rules in addition to online reporting.
Halford noted the staff enforcing the rules have been granted leeway due to various circumstances they may encounter and related issues that vary from location to location. He noted the city needed to be “water cops” as opposed to water Nazis.”
Council wants stepped up
enforcement for yard weeds,
and new home front yards
Mayor Ben Cantu said he wants to see the city come up with a plan for people who let their lawns die and then don’t control the weeds.
“I don’t have a problem with yellow lawns,” Cantu said due to the drought conditions. “I have a problem with people not mowing their weeds.”
Halford believes the city should address new home buyers who have been known to rip out drought resistant landscaping the city requires and replacing it with shrubs and plantings that consume high amounts of water.
The councilman noted it defeats the purpose of city rules requiring front yards in new construction to consume less water.
Councilman Gary Singh and several colleagues want the city to look at rules that would further reduce water consumption by front yard landscaping of new homes. That could involve everything from the type of grass allowed to shrubs.
Singh’s question about what happens when new homeowners opt instead to tear out the landscaping that is part of the permeable surface area the city requires and cover it with concrete to park vehicles and such, prompted a response from planner J.D. Hightower.
Hightower noted — besides creating a harsher look from the street — it also undermines engineering efforts for neighborhood park storm basins where runoff from storms are collected.
He noted if enough people do it, it will mean storm basins would have to be expanded to accommodate increased runoff that would have been absorbed in the portion of front yards of new homes the city requires to be landscaped.
The rules will also be rolled out with a stepped up educational effort regarding water conservation.
Manteca must reduce its water use by 20 percent — as do other jurisdictions throughout the state — to comply with the emergency order issued by the state.
If the rules don’t get the desired reduction and/or the drought continues to deep there are two more stages that the state has in place with the most severe being the rationing of water if it comes to that.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com