The sacrificing of lawns coupled with other conservation moves allowed Manteca to reduce July water use by 31 percent.
That means Manteca barely missed its state-mandated goal of reducing water use by 32 percent over 2013 levels for the first time since the goal was established in July.
Manteca reduced water use 34 percent in May and 38 percent in June. Since the start of 2015 Manteca has reduced water use 16 percent in January, 23 percent in February, 16 percent in March, and 30 percent in April.
Use was at 423 million gallons in July compared to 609 million gallons in the same month for 2013.
Manteca water use has steadily declined since the start of the severe drought four years ago despite the city adding almost 5,000 new residents. The biggest drop though didn’t happen until the state set hard-fast goals based on historic per capita consumption for cities in May. Most of that has been through cutting back on landscaping irrigation of which the biggest user is grass.
“I was concerned that our numbers were going to fall off (in July), but was pleasantly surprised by our results.” noted Manteca Public Works Director Mark Houghton. “The combination of new conservation regulations and the community’s willingness to sacrifice lawns has had a tremendous impact. Hopefully things are different in the future but we are certainly demonstrating that we can reduce water use significantly when needed.”
If the drought extends into a fifth year even if it is less severe — a number of stressed reservoirs could be depleted. Any savings are essential for carryover into next year.
At the same time as more people turn to groundwater, it is becoming imperative for everyone to cut back on that source so underground aquifers don’t start dropping significantly.
The lower lake and river levels are already opposing serious threat to fish.
At the same time, the fire season could prove to be a major stressor for reservoirs this year. Efforts two years ago to fight the Rim Fire virtually drained two Tuolumne County reservoirs leaving Sonora and surrounding communities on the cusp of running out of water.
This fire season is shaping up to be even worse than last year’s.
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