The deepening drought is prompting Manteca city leaders to consider cutting back all allowed outdoor irrigation of lawns and other landscaping to two days a week from the current three.
It is one of two options the City Council will chose between when they meet at 7 p.m. tonight to comply to a state emergency order to reduce water use by 20 percent in a bid to stretch water supplies.
Manteca in June used 515.463 million gallons of water. That is a 2.2 percent reduction over June 2021 water use that was at 526.828 million gallons citywide.
Both options include the state requirement as of June 10 to cease the irrigation of all non-functional turf (lawn and grass) at commercial, industrial, and institutional sites using potable water that is suited for drinking.
Institutional users include government agencies, hospitals, churches, and schools. They can use portable water to irrigate areas that have functional use such as for parks and sports fields.
There are some institutional users such as Calvary Church, East Union Cemetery, and some school and park locations that use non-potable water drawn from shallow wells to irrigate non-functioning turf. The city has several parks as well as the golf course using such functional areas that are allowed to be irrigated with potable water that have been irrigated for years using non-potable water.
Most cities in the area such as Ripon and Lathrop have already slashed residential irrigation from three to two days in response to the worsening drought.
Lathrop and Manteca draw from the same aquifer plus both receive surface water from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District. Ripon relies 100 percent on ground water although they are working to access surface water from SSJID.
A large swatch of Southern California including Los Angeles and Orange County that are served by the Metropolitan Water District that takes water from the State Water Project have made it clear they are likely to outright ban outside irrigation by August if conversation doesn’t pick up.
If the Manteca council opts to go with twice a week outside watering even addresses would be allowed to water on Tuesdays and Saturdays while odd address would be allowed to water on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Both options leave language in the municipal code that flies in the face of the state requirement that prohibits irrigation of any landscaping between noon and 6 p.m. by allowing exceptions to the time restriction to the city hall complex, parks, and Manteca Unified School District landscapes.
The time restrictions reflect the reality that watering at that time of day is when water not only has the highest evaporation rate but most vegetation absorbs less moisture to protect itself from heat.
The council agenda item doesn’t make it clear whether the city will continue to water large grass areas at city hall not used for the dog park or recreational programs.
Both options mean the city will have the authority to start enforcing the state prohibition against the commercial, industrial, and institutional irrigation of non-functional turf with potable water by imposing fines up to $500 per incident as state law allows.
Other water restrictions the city currently has in place are as follows:
• No sprinkler water running down gutter more than 5 minutes
• No washing non landscaped areas without a permit
• No watering within 48 hours of a rain event
• Repair water leaks within 48 hours
• Use a quick acting shut off nozzle to wash cars and boats
• Restaurants only serve water upon request
• Hotels quests don’t need to have towels / linens laundered daily
• Use of water from fire hydrants by permit only
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com