Mantecans reduced their water use by 27 percent in December.
The 186 million gallons was a significant drop from the 254 million gallons used in December 2013 despite the city adding more than 1,000 residents plus several major water users including the Crothall Laundry on Airport Way. The laundry employs water miser, state-of-the-art commercial washing machines.
Overall for 2014, water use was 4.399 billion gallons. That’s down from 2013 when 5.133 billion gallons were used.
“It’s positive,” Public Works Mark Houghton said of the 15 percent drop. “Our water use had been going down for several years due to more efficient appliances and toilets.”
Houghton noted the biggest area that Manteca needs to address for water use is outside landscaping and uses such as washing down cement. He estimated about 40 percent of all water used by city residents is applied to landscaping.
Houghton hopes to accomplish further water use reductions through new rules that encourage more drought resistant landscaping and essentially less green plant and grass options that don’t require as much water.
“We need to rethink landscaping,” Houghton said. “We don’t want an ugly city. We need efficient landscaping.”
He added the answer is not paving over vast areas as that creates negative impacts on the storm run-off system and recharging underground aquifers.
“We need a balance,” he noted.
Regardless, he believes that conserving water is the new norm.
“It is never a good time to waste water,” Houghton said.
As things stand now after a welcome drenching in December there is no rain in the forecast. California is still in the grip of a third consecutive year of drought.
Houghton said city staff will be working on new citywide strategies in the coming months that ideally will emphasize incentives to save water.
“The city would prefer not to be water cops,” he noted.
New city water rules went into effect Jan. 1 to end a grace period for people to learn them.
The new rules are as follows:
• No outdoor watering on Mondays.
• Odd-numbered businesses and residential street addresses are allowed to water Wednesday, Friday and Sunday but not between noon and 6 p.m.
• Even numbered businesses and residential addresses are allowed to water Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday but not between noon and 6 p.m.
• Water conservation measures instead of just taking place during Daylight Savings are now year round. That includes no washing of non-landscaped exterior ground areas without a permit, not allowing water to flow into the gutter or a drainage area for a period exceeding five minutes, and making it unlawful or wash automobiles or boats without a positive shut-off muzzle or a bucket and sponge.
• First time violators will receive a written notice with no penalty imposed.
• Second violations will trigger a written notice and a $50 fine. The fine, though, may be waived if a violator attends a brief water conservation seminar offered by the Public Works Department. The seminar will allow violators the opportunity to gain a greater knowledge of the city’s water system as well as the importance of water conservation to the community.
• All subsequent violations will carry a penalty of $250 per occurrence.