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Manteca water use down 22.2%
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Manteca residents for the second straight year have reduced February water consumption by more than 20 percent compared to 2013.

Manteca used 187.12 million gallons of water last month. That’s up only 80,000 gallons over February 2014 despite the city adding nearly 300 more homes and industrial/retail uses including the large Crothall commercial laundry on Airport Way.

Water use is down 22.2 percent from the 242.2 million gallons Mantecans went through in February 2013. Gov. Jerry Brown in January 2013 called for all Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent to help the state weather the ongoing drought.

But due to California entering its fourth year of drought with almost all reservoirs at historic lows and a near-record low Sierra snowpack, the state is gearing up to put mandatory water restrictions in place in a bid to curb water use even further. The new rules may prohibit restaurants from serving water unless patrons ask for it, banning hotels form providing new linens unless guests ask for water, and requiring all decorative water fountains to be turned off.

Manteca, for its part, will have a set of new conservation measures before the City Council on April 7.

Mayor Steve DeBrum on Wednesday indicated the directive to staff is to have measures that the council can take action on and put in place immediately and not to keep studying options

The big test will come as spring unfolds. Manteca’s water use — just like in other cities — skyrockets when temperatures stay above 70 degrees. That’s due to landscaping.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton has estimated that some 60 percent of all water used in Manteca goes to irrigate landscaping with the biggest amount of that watering grass.

Over the past 12 years, Manteca’s per capita household use of water has continued to drop despite the city growing by more than 16,000 residents. That’s due to a proliferation of low-flow toilets, low-flow showerheads and water efficient washing machines. Flushing toilets, washing clothes, and bathing are the three biggest uses of indoor water.

On Tuesday in Manteca, a 10-minute windshield tour of the neighborhood south of Woodward Park shortly after 3 p.m. yielded three houses where the front yard sprinklers were on. City rules prohibit the watering of any lawn on any day between noon and 6 p.m. due to water evaporation being at its high point as well as grass and plants absorbing less water due to the temperature.

Manteca’s water 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.

u 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.