On the same day a state survey showed the critical Sierra snowpack has deteriorated to just 83 percent of average, the Manteca City Council voted to step up water conservation efforts.
One change adopted Tuesday was to make it illegal for anyone in Manteca to irrigate outdoors within 48 hours following measureable rainfall. That is defined as any amount of rain that generates run-off or puddles.
Another was to switch the enforcement of the water conservation ordinance to an administrative process through the city and not the court system.
That would prevent habitual offenders from being able to game the system to avoid paying fines.
From October through February, the city’s part-time crew of water rule enforcers issued 697 initial warnings, 100 second violations citations, 10 third violations and 4 fourth violations for blatant disregard of water conservation rules.
The second violations have a $50 fine that can be waived one time by attending a city water conservation workshop. The third violation carries a $250 fine as do all subsequent violations.
Of the 114 individuals, 23 have attended a city workshop and had their fine waived. Only 17 of the remaining 91 have paid their fines including one $250 fine. Going forward the administrative enforcement process gives collection of fines more teeth as the city can place liens against offending property owners.
The council’s actions came just hours after state surveyor Frank Gehreke found the snowpack at Echo Summit at 105 percent of average — somewhat better than the Sierra-wide average of 83 percent. A month ago, though, the same spot at Echo Summit was 130 percent of normal
California depends on Sierra snowfall for a third of its water. A snowpack that’s 150 percent of average of April 1 is now considered essential to put the state in a better position than they were last year by the time the water year ends Sept. 30.
The National Weather Service gave some hope that might be obtainable in noting changing weather patterns promise to send a series of storms over the state. Forecasters expect as much as 7 inches of rain in Northern California in the coming days and heavy snow in the mountains.
Hydrologists have said it will take four back-to-back above normal water years to get reservoirs back up to the pre-drought levels they were at in 2011.
Manteca delays action
on plan for once a week
watering from mid-
October to mid-March
On Tuesday, the council postponed on a proposal to limit landscape watering when standard time is in effect— roughly mid-October to mid-March — to just one day a week. Addresses ending in odd numbers would be allowed to water on Sundays while those ending with even numbers on Saturday.
During Daylight Savings Time that spans the warmer months of fall and spring as well as summer, three day a week watering would still be allowed under the proposal as it is currently legal to do so year round. Even addresses can legally water Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while odd addresses can water Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Mayor Steve DeBrum’s suggested bringing the once-a-week watering back before the council at some point prior to October when the water situation can be better assessed,
His council colleagues concurred. Councilman Richard Silverman called the measure “too drastic” to take up at this time.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead, though, made it clear that if once a week watering is needed, she’ll support it.
“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” she said adding that if helping California get through the drought meant yellow or brown lawns that was a price worth paying.
DeBrum, who hasn’t watered his grass since October, noted that it is still green.
A fair number of people continued to water during the winter — even as it was raining — prompting the new prohibition against irrigation with 48 hours of a storm.
The city stopped watering park turf in November. They have started resuming watering some parks this week for the first time since then.
Ripon and Modesto only allow one day of watering during the winter months.