A few years back, Lance Armstrong was caught. He apologized, admitted the error of his ways, and promised to do better in the future. His offense? Using too much water.
Armstrong had used 330,000 gallons of water in July 2008. He hadn’t even been home at his three acre, 14,475 square foot estate. “I’m a little shocked,” he told a newspaper at the time. “There’s no justification for that much water. I need to fix this.”
Well, it’s been several summers since then, this last one being notable for being the hottest and driest on record. And the city is in stage two watering restrictions because of the historic drought. But it would appear Armstrong has not learned how to conserve. According to data from Austin Water Utility, he used around 1.3 million gallons of water in the last year, putting him among the top ten residential users of water in town.
Armstrong isn’t alone in using excessive amounts of water. In fact, he’s not even the worst offender. That would be Robert Girling, who founded a home health care company. He used 1.9 million gallons of water in the last year. Also on the list of the top twenty-five residential water users in Austin? Venture capitalist Paul Zito, car dealers Doug Maund and Steven Late, and Congressman Michael McCaul, who went through 1.4 million gallons of water in the last year.
As you can see on the map above created by KUT, the extreme water users are primarily concentrated in the West Austin and Westlake neighborhoods. They each used over a million gallons of water over the last year, according to Austin Water Utility, with annual water bills over $13,000. The average Austin resident uses about 100,000 gallons of water a year.
The data was released after local environmentalist Paul Robbins made an open records request. In some cases, customers (like Lance Armstrong) redacted their address and exact water use, but their rank on the list is public. Addresses for those who had them redacted were located through voter registration records.
You can report water waste online through Austin 3-1-1.
CORRECTION: This post originally stated that Mary Gordon Spence was on the list of top water users in Austin; the home in question actually belongs to Roy and Mary Spence. We regret the error.