Per capita water use in Manteca was up by 7 gallons a day.
Manteca’s water consumption was 147.1 gallons on a daily basis per resident in 2017.
Last year’s daily per capita use is up from 134.07 gallons in 2016, 135.9 gallons in 2015, 165.3 gallons in 2014, and 197.13 gallons in 2013. It is still below levels going back a decade or more. In 2007, as an example, per capita water use in Manteca was at 202 gallons.
The upward creep comes as the prospects of this winter ending up being below normal for rainfall and snowfall prompted the Department of Water Resources to warn deliveries for the State Water Project may end up being 20 percent of requested amounts.
Monday’s announcement came as statewide water content level in snow was at 18 percent of normal. The Central Sierra, relatively speaking, is in better shape than any other region in the state in terms of snowfall. It is the complete opposite than what it was like during the drought when Mother Nature hit the Stanislaus River watershed the hardest.
The State Water Project provides drinking water to more than half of California’s nearly 40 million people, as well as to farms. Allocations from the water system have dropped as low as 5 percent in 2014, at the peak of California’s 5-year drought.
It is the latest sign that California could be slipping back toward drought mode after a year of above normal snow snapped the state out of five years of drought.
As of Monday, the snow water equivalent in the Central Sierra that includes the Stanislaus River watershed that supplies irrigation water to South County farms and drinking water to the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon was at 35 percent of normal for the date and 21 percent of what is needed for the critical April 1 date that typically signals the end of significant snowfall.
The 7 gallon per day uptick in water consumption in Manteca comes after the first full year of new homes being built with mandatory front yard designs that reduce irrigation needs, the largest use of treated water in the city.
Builders such as Raymus Homes have models that offer front lawns with various designs that meet the city minimums as well as go beyond them to further reduce water. A survey of three builders show that most new homeowners want to maximize allowable lawn that ranks as the No.1 consumer of water for irrigation and all other purposes.
A storm system early this month that hit just at the right time allowed the South San Joaquin Irrigation District to delay any decision on an early irrigation run. A number of growers concerned about drying soil and warm weather had inquired about the possibility of an early run.
Next rain in forecast
for South County: Feb. 18
The need for an early run before the irrigation season typically starts in March may not have passed. The forecast currently for the next rain in the Manteca-Ripon-Lathrop area isn’t until at least Feb. 18. With the start of almond blossom season approaching within the next four weeks the need for an early run could still arise. It all depends upon how dry soil becomes, how warm it gets, and whether there are dry winds.
The moisture in the area the South County has been experiencing for periods of time is typically more than adequate to maintain residential landscaping that tends to stay mostly dormant into March. That, however, hasn’t stopped some Manteca residents from irrigating their lawns.
Cities such as Manteca have been given 2013 as the base year to reduce overall water consumption by 15 percent without taken into account growth.
Based on that yardstick, Manteca is still exceeding the 15 percent reduction goal on a per capita basis. Fifteen percent less per capita means to meet the goal Manteca would have needed to go from 197.5 gallons per capita down to 165.53 gallons per capita. The city is currently at 147.1 gallons per capita.
Overall water use in Manteca increased for the second straight year going up 11 percent in 2017 to 4,190 million gallons. Water use was up 3 percent overall in 2016 after two back-to-back years of use falling by 15 percent.
One of the key trends that are arguably strengthening the city’s ability to sustain water deliveries is the continued downward trend in using groundwater.
Before 2005, all of the city’s water came from wells. In 2004 Manteca pumped over 4.7 million gallons from the ground. That dropped by 700,000 gallons in 2005 when the Nick DeGroot Surface Water Treatment Plant started operations.
Well water use continued to drop in 2017 despite overall water use popping back up. It was down to around 1.3 million gallons, the lowest level of ground water use in at least 30 years.
There are a number of reasons why it is critical for Manteca to reduce ground water use. Putting in place new water wells are expensive and can easily top $2 million apiece. They also require electricity to run pumps.
At the same time the state mandate that all users do not take out more from a groundwater basin than is replenished over a designated 12-month period will put a crunch on water use from aquifers even during non-drought years.
Manteca’s water rules
The stricter water rules that were adopted for Manteca residents and businesses 31 months are as follows:
uNo irrigation is allowed during or within 48 hours following measurable rainfall as defined by storms that generate run-off or puddles.
uNo watering is allowed on Monday or any day between noon and 6 p.m. Watering for even addresses is on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while odd addresses can water on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.
uNo water will be allowed on any day at any time for washing off sidewalks, driveways, patios, parking lots or other exterior non-landscaped areas without a permit obtained from the Manteca Public Works Department office at the Civic Center.
uNo water will be allowed to flow into a gutter or other drainage area for longer than 5 minutes. All water leaks or malfunctions in plumbing or irrigation systems must be fixed with 24 hours.
Penalties include a written notice on the first violation, a $100 fine with applicable fees on the second violation that may be waived by attending a water conservation workshop; a $200 fine and applicable fees on the third violation; and $500 fines for each and every subsequent application plus applicable fees.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com