Recycled water could be keeping the turf at Woodward Park — and other large grassy areas south of the 120 Bypass — green within the next two to three years.
Public Works Director Mark Houghton believes that time frame is do-able thanks to innovative thinking on the part of his staff.
It is being made possible by upwards of $20 million worth of infrastructure work that is moving forward in the coming months to make the city’s 210 acres at the wastewater treatment plant marketable for commercial uses as part of the family entertainment zone that will include a 500-room hotel and waterpark resort.
The FEZ project using part of the remaining redevelopment agency money will put in a sewer pipe from the treatment plant through the FEZ site and under the 120 Bypass to connect with a gravity flow sewer pipe buried beneath Woodward Avenue two years ago. A new purple pipe line will be extended from the plant to Daniels Street within the FEZ where it will eventually be connected to the forced gravity sewer line.
There is less than a half mile section of the gravity flow line left to be put in place between Union Road and South Main Street. Once that is in place, wastewater will flow from the neighborhoods around Woodward Park and all homes and development to the west to the treatment plant in the new gravity line.
The existing forced sewer line that requires lift stations to move wastewater will then be repurposed for recycled water that will move by gravity from west to east.
The line will be cleaned before it is put into service.
Once the line is repurposed, the city will be able to use recycled water to irrigate the 52-acre Woodward Park as well other large areas near Woodward Avenue such as the turf at Veritas School and various city parks such as Terra Bella, Antiqua, Charles Palmer, Dutra Southeast Park, Bella Vista Park, and Dutra Estates Park.
It will also mean new development south of the 120 Bypass that has been required to put purple pipe in place to irrigate future parks as well as common landscaping such as along sound walls will be able to access recycled water as well.
The ability to take Woodward Park and other neighborhood parks in the area off shallow irrigation wells will be a boon to city efforts to conserve water. Any water that the city uses — included those pumped from non-potable wells used exclusively for irrigation —count toward its water use. Manteca was just under 30 percent in water savings last year compared to 2013 levels. The state has mandated Manteca reduce its water consumption by 32 percent over baseline uses established in 2013.
Newer parks that have the cost of irrigating them wrapped up in landscape maintenance district assessments levied each year on homes within the neighborhood would see a reduction in costs. Even if the city charged for the water, it would eliminate the need to use electricity to operate wells. It would also eliminate the need to ultimately place wells due to wear and tear that can be a costly undertaking.
The purple pipe extension into the FEZ also makes it plausible for the city to use recycled water to irrigate turf at the Big League Dreams sports complex and landscaping at the Stadium Retail Center.
The water would also be available for landscaping for the proposed 500-room hotel and indoor waterpark resort and nearby man-made lake that’s part of the FEZ proposal.
The city already uses recycled wastewater. For years, it has been applied to corn grown on city-owned land around the wastewater treatment plant that is leased to a farmer. The corn is used for silage for dairy cows.
Last year, a purple fire hydrant was put in place near the entrance to the treatment plant for construction firms to access free recycled water for dust control on building projects in lieu of using drinking water.
Manteca already has a roughly four-mile Eckert’s line that has been used for more than a decade to transport agricultural waste water from washing bell peppers to a pond at the treatment plant where it is then applied to crops that thrive using the nitrate laden water. In the future should Eckert’s no longer need the line, it could be reversed to carry treated water to water various parks located near the line.
Purple is the universal designation for pipe and water faucets that carry water for irrigation only.
The city eventually plans to convert as many large areas such as parks as economically feasible to irrigate using treated wastewater.
It is common practice in Southern California especially in desert communities such as Palm Springs where everything from golf courses to parks are kept green that way.
Manteca is also currently devising a recycled waste water master plan.
Master plan consultants initially identified the best candidates for using recycled wastewater from the Manteca treatment plant are the municipal golf course, Big League Dreams, the proposed family entertainment zone, Sierra High and Brock Elliott School.
The five locations are part of what the report refers to as “core local demands.” It would require just one pump and the least amount of pipeline to get-up and running after the connection is made to the existing Woodward gravity flow line when it is repurposed for recycled water.