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Manteca Unified steps up water conversation as drought deepens
Ripon Unified schools are cutting back watering grass that isnt part of playing fields by 35 percent. - photo by Photo Contributed

The grass will be higher in many areas at the nearly three dozen Manteca Unified campuses as the district steps up to meet the challenge of the drought.

Aaron Bowers, who oversees operations and facilities, indicated maintenance crews are addressing the effectiveness of sprinklers and make adjustments to minimize the use and waste of water.

The district has historically tried to keep water use low given it is the second highest non-personnel cost in the budget behind electricity. Manteca Unified spends almost $1 million a year on water.

The biggest change the public will see is grass being kept at a higher height in areas that aren’t used for sports playing fields. That provides more cover for roots reducing the need for water to keep grass from burning.

The district when modernizing schools has made it a point to move away from ornamental grass that typically is found in the front of older schools and landscaping that doesn’t consume a lot of water once it is established.

The City of Manteca, during the last drought, took similar measures.

They haven’t yet, however, started cutting grass higher while cutting back on watering grass areas that aren’t extensively used for sports playing fields.

At the same time some of the landscape maintenance districts the city oversees have water running between noon and 6 p.m. — times officials tell  residents and businesses not to water landscaping due to high evaporation rates.

All of San Joaquin County is in exceptional drought — the most serious level on the drought monitor scale employed by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Many reservoirs are at historic lows such as the 3.5 million acre foot Oroville Dam that is down to 26 percent capacity.   Manteca’s water rules

The stricter water rules that were adopted for Manteca residents and businesses 72 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 violation plus applicable fees.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email