Manteca residents in 2015 reduced water consumption enough over 2013 levels to fill the abandoned water tower overlooking the animal shelter along South Main Street 4,900 times.
The savings in California’s fourth year of severe drought came to 1.47 billion gallons. That reflects a 28.7 percent reduction over 2013 levels despite the city adding 2,200 residents to grow the population base by more than 3 percent during the last two years.
“We need to keep it up,” said Public Works Director Mark Houghton.
The city shut off most of its irrigation systems earlier in December. Most of Manteca has followed the city’s advice and have ceased landscape irrigation before, during and after storms.
Gardening experts indicated lawns, plants, and trees probably won’t need water for the next three to four weeks even if the rains were to stop today given they are dormant this time of year.
The state determined Manteca had to reduce its water use by 32 percent over 2013 levels. Water officials on both the state and federal level are repeatedly cautioning Californians that above average rain and snow this year won’t break the drought’s back. In the mid-Sierra runoff basin that includes New Melones Reservoir that the South San Joaquin Irrigation District relies on as well as the cities of Manteca, Tracy and Lathrop there needs to be 120 percent of normal snow]pack on April 1 simply so the water levels in key reservoirs can be where they were this past Sept. 30.
It has been estimated as average four to five average water years will be needed to wipe out the drought’s impact on storage.
Houghton indicated if the state issues Manteca a warning for missing the water conservation goal and threatens to force additional mandatory conservation measures in Manteca, the city would file for one of the new exceptions to recalculate water cutbacks. One of those exceptions is significant population growth.
To spur additional water conservation, Manteca is offering
ua maximum $650 rebate for the city’s lawn-to-garden program based on $1 per square foot
ua $75 rebate for installing a dual-flush of high-efficiency low-flow toilet
The citizens’ committee the council appointed to devise suggestions to reduce water also suggested city staff to develop 10 educational items some of which have been implemented:
Develop an informational water conservation flyer for new water accounts.
Develop a city rebate/water conservation information package for all homeowners.
Better educate homeowner associations and groups that have multiple water accounts or multiple water stations on their property.
Enlist community group to assist with water conservation efforts.
Provide additional education to retailers and the Manteca Unified School District.
Develop a point-of-sale property disclosure with the city’s water conservation measures.
Coordinate an ongoing free water conservation/landscape class.
Educate children through various youth programs.
Develop a water conservation program for non-profit car washes.
Develop a water conservation flyer for new pool permit applications.