The drought is about to come home to roost for Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy.
The San Joaquin Irrigation District board on Tuesday is expected to activate the second step in its state-mandated water shortage response plan.
It means the three cities will be asked to voluntarily reduce water obtained from the SSJID surface water treatment plant by 20 percent. The exception will be Tracy.
That’s because the state’s emergency order carved out exceptions for water suppliers such as SSJID if they have an urban customer that is already facing a sustainable cutback on water deliveries from other sources.
In Tracy’s case it also obtains water from the Central Valley Project that has already imposed mandatory cutbacks on contracted water delivery.
Manteca and Lathrop draw on both surface water from the SSJID and groundwater.
Trimming back Manteca’s use of SSJID surface water is clearly going to be a steep challenge for Manteca.
That’s because the per capita water use in April was up 17.9 percent compared to April 2021. That happened after Gov. Gavin Newsom asked all Californians to voluntarily cutback water use 15 percent.
If the city simply cuts back use of surface water by increasing pumping ground water on a proportionate basis without getting residents to dial back their use, it could inflict long-range damage on the stability of ground water sources.
SSJID General Manager Peter Reitkerk stressed that the request for the cities is on a voluntary basis.
However, there could be serious consequences if cities aren’t able to reduce water use.
Based on current conditions, the SSJID and its partner Oakdale Irrigation District will get their full 600,000 acre foot water allotment that they split 50-50 from the Stanislaus River watershed. There is also carryover storage in the Tri-Dam Project reservoirs that the two districts own and operate jointly.
“We are fortunate to be in a better position than most for this water year,” Reitkerk said.
The big issue for SSJID and OID is where they will be at the end of the current water year.
Reitkerk said based on hydrology it will be similar to 2014. In that case, 2015 started with the district in the hole forcing mandatory cutbacks.
Reitkerk noted the second level of the SSJID water emergency plan it is to significantly step on education efforts on water conservation. He said the district stands ready to assist cities in that effort if they are asked to do so.”
Stepping up groundwater use in the three cities is expected to negatively impact supplies in future years.
To that end, SSJID staff would also stand ready to work with its municipal customers to help maintain groundwater supplies so that if drought conditions persist into next year, any groundwater not pumped this year could be available next year.
The SSJID has already instructed its operators of canals to be super vigilant at making sure water is conserved. They have made the same request of farmers that have a vested interest in making sure there are ample water supplies to carry them through the irrigation season.
Manteca’s water rules
The stricter water rules that were adopted for Manteca residents and businesses 84 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.
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