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Manteca per capita water use more than in last drought
Woodward Reservoir could look like this by August if the state has its way. This photo was taken during the 2009 drought. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The last full year of the previous drought in 2017 Manteca had a per capita water use of 183 gallons in July.

Last month the July per capita water use of water was 207 gallons as San Joaquin County deals with extreme drought conditions two years into an extended dry spell.

While that represents a 13 percent increase in per capita water use in July-to-July comparisons it is down from 2013 use levels prior to the start of the last drought.

Manteca with 88,000 residents used 564.8 million gallons of water in July 2021. Of that 51.04 percent of the water used came from the Stanislaus River water shed in the form of treated water.

The city’s 75,000 residents in July 2017 used 488 million gallons. That compares to July 2013 when Manteca with 69,000 residents used 632 million gallons. That translates into 295 gallons per capita for July 2013 as opposed to 207 gallons per capita for July 2021.

Since June 1, Manteca along with Tracy, Lathrop and the rest of San Joaquin County as well as the entire Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley has been in the worst category tracked by the United States Drought Monitor which is exceptional drought.

The rest of Northern San Joaquin Valley along with the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers critical to surface water use for cities and farms in the 209 are also all in exceptional drought as was 46.45 percent of California.

 The South San Joaquin Irrigation District has indicated if everyone they serve — farmers and the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy use water wisely — they should be able to squeak by this year. A third straight dry year, should that occur, could require harsh restrictions and possibly even rationing.

Between 60 and 70 percent of the water used in Manteca in a typical year is supplied by the SSJID.

The rest is ground water. Not only does drought impact aquifers as well as they are not being recharged, looming state regulations will soon prevent more water being withdrawn from a basin than is replenished whether it is by natural or forced recharging.

Weather has a lot to do with water use. Once temperatures exceed 90 degrees the outside use of water spikes.  Manteca officials over the years have indicated landscaping irrigation and other outside water use such as washing cars accounts for roughly half of all water use in a typical year.

Of the half attributed to outdoor use close to 80 percent was used to irrigate grass. Much of that was so-called “non-functional grass” such as front lawns planted for looks and office park grass area, or lawn along corridors such as Spreckels Avenue.

It is why the city during the last drought launched its turf conversion rebate program aimed at encouraging homeowners and businesses to switch to more drought tolerant landscaping.

Manteca’s water rules

The stricter water rules that were adopted for Manteca residents and businesses 75 months ago are as follows:

*No irrigation is allowed during or within 48 hours following measurable rainfall as defined by storms that generate run-off or puddles.

*No watering is allowed on Monday or any day between noon and 6 p.m. Watering for even addresses is on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while odd addresses can water on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

*No water will be allowed on any day at any time for washing off sidewalks, driveways, patios, parking lots or other exterior non-landscaped areas without a permit obtained from the Manteca Public Works Department office at the Civic Center.

*No water will be allowed to flow into a gutter or other drainage area for longer than 5 minutes. All water leaks or malfunctions in plumbing or irrigation systems must be fixed with 24 hours.

Penalties include a written notice on the first violation, a $100 fine with applicable fees on the second violation that may be waived by attending a water conservation workshop; a $200 fine and applicable fees on the third violation; and $500 fines for each and every subsequent application plus applicable fees.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email