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Manteca cuts water use by 34% in April
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Manteca in April reduced its water use by 34 percent to its lowest level in at least 13 years.

The city for the first time ever exceeded the targeted cutback assigned to it by the state as part of California’s effort to survive a fourth consecutive year of severe drought. Manteca’s targeted reduction is 32 percent from May 2013 consumption levels.

Manteca in April used 72 million gallons less water than they did in April 2003 despite growing by almost 16,000 people. Manteca had 57,200 residents in 2003.

Much of the drop per capita from 2003 up until the start of the drought is credited in part to low-flow toilets, low-flow shower heads, water efficient washing machines and other improvements related to in-home use of water

“Not only is Manteca the most patriotic city in the United States, we are working on becoming one of the most water wise cities in the state,” Public Works Director Mark Houghton noted on Wednesday.

He credited mild weather coupled with a conscientious community effort for exceeding the state target.

The April conservation effort come on the heels of Tuesday’s report that showed Manteca leading San Joaquin County for March with reduced water use of 30 percent.

“Absolutely great!” was Councilman Richard Silverman’s reaction. “Hats off to the people of Manteca and great job by the staff. Keep up the good work (and) educate, educate, educate . . .”

Manteca used 352 million gallons of water in April. That’s down from 490 million gallons in April 2014 and 534 million gallons in April of 2013. The year 2013 — along with how per capita water consumption matched up with California’s average that year — is how the state assigned mandated targeted goals to cut water consumption.

While Houghton appreciated residents’ efforts “and continued vigilance” he cautioned the big test is coming this month, July, August, and September when temperatures typically hit the 90s and 100s.

The city is in the process of implementing new water rules. They include:

All new pools must have pool covers. Before the city signs off on a permit for new pools that are built, they must have a pool cover installed.

Restricting turf use in new front yard landscaping. Currently the municipal ordinance simply says front yards must be 35 percent landscaped but doesn’t specify with what. The new rule still requires 35 percent of the area of new front yards and side yards visible from the street to be landscaped but no more than 25 percent of that reduced area can be planted in grass while the rest has to be live plant material with an emphasis placed on drought-resistant plant species.

Hiring a water resources coordinator. The position will coordinate, implement and promote water conservation and reclaimed water and management activities. They will also coordinate and implement public outreach and education materials. The job will be filled sometime this month.

Hire two part-time water conservation ordinance enforcement assistants. They will work primarily outside of normal city business hours and on weekends to inspect properties to ensure compliance and also issue violation notices for properties not adhering to the regulations.

Reducing city water use by 25 percent. The strategy emphasizes not losing mature trees and plants, damaging the creational value of some city facilities or creating a safety issue for recreation sports play in the parks. Through this plan more heavily used areas such as the golf course, Big League Dreams sports complex, Woodward Park, Morenzone Field and Northgate Park have a lower reduced rate of water conservation ensuring that the turf would remain green in order to provide for numerous recreation activities. Other areas are making up by that by having reductions greater than 25 percent.

Treated wastewater is required for dust control during new construction. The city is now banning using drinking water for that purpose. The city is providing water free of charge via a purple fire hydrant that is now in place at the wastewater treatment plant.

Increased rebates for high-efficiency washing machines and low-flow toilet replacement. Rebates have been doubled for such washers up from $50 to $100 and for toilets from $25 to $50 when they are purchased from a business within the City of Manteca.

Lawn-to-garden rebate. This is a $100,000 six month pilot rebate program giving residents and businesses $1 a square foot help convert lawns to drought-resistant landscaping. Residential rebates would be capped at $500 and businesses at $5,000. It is in the process of being implemented.

Low-flow showerhead and hose nozzle disbursement. All water customers are able to receive up to two low-flow showerheads and one hose nozzle within a two-year period. In order to receive the new showerhead, an old showerhead will need to be traded in.

Suspend enforcement of the city’s ordinance relative to landscape care, maintenance and replacement. Those who would like to discontinue irrigation their landscaping this year and let their landscaping die to conserve water would be allowed to do so. The suspension will allow for landscapes to die but front yard landscapes will still have to adhere to weed and trash nuisance code rules which do not allow for weeds higher than six inches.

Establishing a water conservation citizen committee. In an effort to assess additional water conservation options the council established a Water Conservation Citizens Committee. It meets today at 3 o’clock at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.