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Manteca water savings dip down to 28.4%
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Manteca’s water conversation efforts slipped in August.

Use was down 28.4 percent  from August 2013. The state has given Manteca  a mandated goal of securing a 32 percent reduction. August is historically the third highest month for water use in Manteca with June being the No.1 month followed by July. This year August water use topped June.

The combined efforts of residents, businesses, the city, and schools reduced water use by 31 percent in July, 38 percent in June, 34 percent in May, 30 percent in April, 16 percent in March, 23 percent in February, and 16 percent in January.

Mantecans used 411.979 million gallons of water last month compared to 572.2 million gallons in August of 2013.

If the drought extends into a fifth year even if it is less severe — a number of stressed reservoirs could be depleted. Any savings are essential for carryover into next year.

At the same time as more people turn to groundwater, it is becoming imperative for everyone to cut back on that source so underground aquifers don’t start dropping significantly.

The lower lake and river levels are already posing a serious threat to fish.

At the same time, the fire season could prove to be a major stressor for reservoirs this year. Efforts two years ago to fight the Rim Fire virtually drained two Tuolumne County reservoirs leaving Sonora and surrounding communities on the cusp of running out of water.

This fire season is shaping up to be even worse than last year’s.

Also, water experts are warning the El Nino weather system California is now experiencing may not translate into above average — or even normal — snowfall in the critical Sierra watershed.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Predictions Center has 30 models that between them indicate there is a 90 percent chance of an El Nino this winter. The models are done by meteorologists at university and weather service stations round the globe. When taken together, the majority are projecting a wetter than typical winter.

Experts are warning even if El Nino brings a normal or wetter year to parts of California — most specifically the south state — past patterns show that there isn’t necessarily above normal precipitation in the Sierra.

Five various Sierra stations monitor snow and rain in the central Sierra that includes the Stanislaus River Basin that helps supply area farms as well as the cities of Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy. There is just better than a 50 percent chance it will deliver above normal precipitation.

South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Jeff Shields has noted even if there is a normal year of rain and snow on the Stanislaus watershed or a bit above average it won’t return water supply conditions to normal.

That’s because the safety net reservoirs created for California has worked but after four years of severe drought it means the state may not be able to survive a fifth year of drought without even more draconian water cuts.