Manteca residents slashed their water use 42 percent in March over 2013 consumption levels.
The March results came on the heels of a revised state mandate for Manteca water consumption as part of the ongoing state drought emergency.
Manteca is now being required to reduce water use by 27 percent over 2013 levels compared to the 32 percent target that they had to meet up until last month.
“It’s going to be tight but it is doable,” Public Works Director Mark Houghton said of the new state mandate.
Manteca used 206 million gallons of water in March. That is the second lowest March since 2003. The last lowest March was 2010 when 203 million gallons were used.
The state eased but did not drop drought targets. That’s because the near normal snowpack for most of the Sierra as of April 1 wasn’t enough to break the drought that is heading into its fifth year. Four years of substantially below precipitation has significantly drawn down reservoirs. While some reservoirs such as Shasta and Oroville have bounced back to over 70 percent of normal for this time of year others like New Melones are only at levels under 30 percent of normal.
There are also other pressures on the water supplies besides the drought.
Over drafting of valley aquifers prompted the state to put in place requirements that groundwater basins be managed to the point that no more water is taken from the ground than is put back into it. Given Manteca relies on ground water as well as surface water from the Stanislaus River watershed the new directive will impact the city.
There are also ongoing efforts to commandeer water on the Stanislaus River and nearby rivers for use for increased fish flows.
“Water conservation is going to be a way of life from here on out,” Houghton said.
Houghton lauded city residents for refraining from irrigation lawns and landscaping during the month of March when a fair amount of rain fell. It was a sharp contrast to March 2015 when there was no rainfall.
A number of Manteca residents have indicated they haven’t irrigated lawns or gardens since November yet grass and landscaping is still green. The fact temperatures have stayed under 80 degrees and people are cutting their grass higher has helped.
Manteca’s savings in 2015 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.
Houghton noted with Manteca still growing reducing water use another 1.7 percent will be a challenge but it is doable.