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Manteca saves water, reduces costs with park irrigation wells
Four more municipal parks will be taken off the municipal water system and irrigated instead with shallow wells. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca avoids using enough treated water each year to meet the needs of roughly 9,000 people.

It’s due to an ongoing effort to install irrigation wells at municipal parks that tap fairly shallow aquifers where the water is considered unsafe for human consumption. Domestic drinking water is taken from wells that go down several hundred feet.

“It helps cut city costs and avoids using expensive treated water to irrigate parks,” noted Manteca Public Works Director Mark Houghton.

The city has 12 parks that currently have their own irrigation wells independent of the city system including Lincoln Park where a previous municipal well used for domestic use was deemed no longer safe for human consumption. It was disconnected from the city system and hooked exclusively to irrigation lines at Lincoln Park.

The 12 parks represents roughly 125 acres that require between three to four feet of water each year to keep green. An acre foot of water is roughly enough to meet the needs of a typical Central Valley household of four people, according to the Department of Water Resources. Altogether the wells means the city avoids using enough water to meet the needs of close to 9,000 people a year.

The Manteca City Council last week approved moving forward with four more irrigation wells at parks located in the Button Estates, Diamond Oaks, Curran Grove and Dutra Southeast neighborhoods. The wells are being financed by the water-related fees assessed on growth since the project ultimately increase the capacity available to accommodate new homes, businesses, and employment centers.

A side benefit of the use of separate wells for park irrigation has allowed a steady increase in water pressure in a number of neighborhoods. That because park irrigation typically takes place during the early morning hours which is the highest peak period for water consumption in the city as people wake up and get ready for work as well as irrigate their own landscaping.

They also help to dewater areas where high water tables that can create problems for buildings, streets, and other structures.

The other 11 parks already with their own irrigation wells are Doxey, Shasta, Colony, Antigua, Yosemite Village, Dutra Estates, Woodward, Chadwick, Primavera, Bella Vista, and Springport.

Manteca was one of the first cities to start converting municipal parks to separate wells. It was done in a move to primarily reduce user costs. As such, it is one of the reasons why water rates have gone unchanged in Manteca for more than five years.