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City trails Tracy, Ripon, Lathrop in reducing water use
This photo shows water conditions on the Stanislaus River from Camp Nine to Parrots Ferry. The Stanislaus watershed supplies the cities of Manteca, Tracy, and Lathrop along with South County farmers - photo by Photo Contributed

Tracy is leading the way among South County cities when it comes to reducing water use over last year’s consumption levels.

August to August comparisons show Tracy is down 22 percent since last year, Lathrop 15 percent, Ripon 12 percent, and Manteca 11 percent.

Not only are surface supplies in reservoirs at record lows but experts say the aquifer serving Manteca and Ripon and surrounding farmland has dropped 10 feet so far this year. California is in its third year of extreme drought with the National Weather Service predicting a fourth year with snow and rain possibly even lower than this year.

Aquifers supplying Lathrop and Tracy have seen increased salt water intrusion due to the drought.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency at the start of the year and called for all cities and urban water districts to reduce water consumption by 20 percent.

The City of Lathrop is doings its fair share to curb usage amidst growing government pressure and looming concerns about future shortages. 

According to a community posting that Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal made Wednesday, Lathrop has managed to cut its water consumption progressively each of the last three months – seven percent in June, 11 percent in July and 15 percent in August. 

The escalation represents a change in the city’s water policy over the course of the last month when the State of California informed all communities that a lack of action – an ordinance that specifically outlined the necessary water usage being adopted statewide – would lead to fines for noncompliance. 

Lathrop already had water conservation measures on the books and had instituted them when the drought was initially announced, but the regulations and the advisements to the residents became stiffer and much more pointed. 

Here are the rules as they pertain to residents and businesses today:

• Watering between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. is prohibited. Addresses ending in odd numbers will water on Wednesday and Sunday before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m., and addresses ending in odd numbers will water on Tuesday and Saturday before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m. Commercial and industrial customers shall water on Tuesday and Friday before 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. No watering shall commence on Mondays or Thursdays. 

• Any watering that leads to runoff – water that flows onto adjacent properties, sidewalks, gutters, streets, parking lots or structures – is prohibited. 

• Handheld trigger shutoff devices are required for all garden hoses. Watering devices that can be left running are prohibited. 

• Washing of building exteriors, driveways or sidewalks is prohibited except in the case of spillage of a substance that could be detrimental to the public health. 

• All controllable water leaks – including those at the connection between water sources and hoses – must be controlled. 

• Watering landscapes during high winds that causes the water to be blown away from the area being watered is prohibited. 

• All ornamental fountains except those that utilize water-recycling equipment must be turned off. 

Last week the City Council approved consent calendar items that will improve conditions at multiple city wells and therefore increase the amount of quality water that the city can draw – curtailing the amount of surface water needed now that the South San Joaquin Irrigation District has started cutting delivery of surface water by 20 percent. 

The council also approved an expenditure that will further Lathrop’s water master plan and help provide for long-term guidance as the community grows and the impact and strain on current systems increases.