January — the lowest month for water use because of the virtual absence of outdoor watering — was seen by Public Works Director Mark Houghton as a barometer of Manteca’s changing water use habits.
Overall residents, businesses, schools and the city used 169 million gallons of water. That is down from 172 million gallons in January of 2016 when Manteca had 1,000 less residents.
Manteca used 19.5 percent less water in January 2016 than they did in January 2013. The state has been using 2013 as the benchmark for cities to target for water use cutbacks,
“It certainly appears that the combination of rain and conservation efforts have paid off,” Houghton noted.
And even if the drought ends, the reality is stepped up water conservation is expected to continue in Manteca and elsewhere in California for a variety of reasons.
uThe state groundwater sustainability mandate requires that no more water can be taken from an aquifer than is replaced during a year. That essentially means no more growth unless ways are found to reduce water waste and/or recharge underground basins using recycled wastewater and/or captured storm runoff.
uThreatened state commandeering of water from the Stanislaus River for fish flows and Delta salinity would impact domestic water supplies for Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy.
uPeriods of droughts in California hydrology history are the rule and not the exception including extended periods of 50 years or more that had a series of prolonged droughts with breaks of one or two years in between.
Manteca was assigned a goal of reducing water use by 28 percent based on 2013 use. The city barely missed that target in 2016 having used 27 percent less water than in 2013 despite substantial growth.
An update of the city’s state-mandated water management plan in September showed Manteca has already met a pre-drought mandate set by the state to reduce per capita water consumption to 179 gallons by 2020. Water use in 2015 was 139 gallons per capita, down from an average of 223 gallons per capita between 1996 and 2005.
The consumption of water had dropped initially due to the impacts of the installation of high efficiency toilets as well as washing machines. Both uses among with bathing and showering and the biggest inside uses of water in Manteca.
But what really accelerated the drop in water were state mandates to reduce consumption due to the ongoing five-year ground.
Conserving is also paying dividends financially for Manteca residents. Reduced water use during the first eight months of 2016 kept $1.8 million in the pockets of Manteca residents and business. That is based on roughly a 28 percent water savings over the water consumption level for the same January through August period of 2013.
Water issues account for the biggest long-range municipal investments.
Those investments include:
uproviding state-mandated 200-year flood protection for the southwest sector of the city.
uharnessing treated wastewater to irrigate parks and other landscaping.
uestablishing a state require groundwater basin plan so the city essentially doesn’t pump more water than is replenished in a given year.
ucomplying with federal requirements to minimize storm run-off.
uthe drilling of replacement wells.
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