Manteca could join a small but growing number of California municipalities and water districts that are offering residents rebates or low-cost loans to convert to xeriscape landscaping.
The idea was one of many floated during a brainstorming session at Tuesday’s Manteca City Council on how to deal with the current drought plus stretch water supplies in future years.
City leaders repeatedly stressed that despite the current storm water supplies this year are tight. And if Manteca residents don’t make an effort to reduce water this year, a fourth drought year in 2015 could have dire consequences for South County urban residents and farmers alike.
The biggest use of water in Manteca by far is for landscaping. Public Works Director Mark Houghton provided the council with water usage information that shows roughly 600 acre feet of water are used each month by Manteca households and businesses for basic needs such as flushing toilets, showers, washing clothes and such. But once March arrives and until the need for outdoor water tapers off in early December, there is a spike in water consumption due to landscape irrigation. Landscaping consumes an additional 1,800 acre feet of water in the peak month of June, as an example.
The city already takes some of the sting out of the extra need for irrigation by having half of the city’s parks on wells that tap into non-potable water instead of drinking water.
Xeriscaping is landscaping that requires little irrigation or other maintenance. It has been growing in popularity in arid regions in the Western United States during recent years.
The council indicated it wants incentive programs for xeriscaping explored as well as efforts to convert the rest of the city’s parks to non-potable wells. Also on the list is seeing if the city can increase the size of rebates for low flush toilets and high efficiency washing machines. The council also wants serious consideration given to diverting the 7 million gallons of treated wastewater for domestic irrigation to reduce the need to draw on aquifers as well as utilizing surface water.
Manteca’s existing water conservation program goes into effect on Sunday, March 9, when Daylight Savings Time starts.
It limits the time of day when people can water and assigns water days by odd and even street addresses as well as prohibits the use of open end hoses to wash cars and bans gutter flooding.