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Water Hogs



Who are the biggest water hogs in California? Well, in the Bay Area, the worst is a Chevron exec. Second is some venture capitalist. You’d expect these two types to lead. Third? Billy Beane!

Oakland A’s big cheese Billy Beane, famous for his statistical money-saving approach to assembling a baseball team, has been far less economical with his water, according to an East Bay Municipal Utility District roster that places him among the top water hogs in the East Bay.

The baseball team’s executive vice president, for whom the phrase “Moneyball” was invented, has been slopping nearly 6,000 gallons of water a day on the grounds of his Danville estate and his swimming pool, placing him third on a preliminary list of excessive water users released Friday.

The average residential customer uses about 250 gallons a day per household.

The list of 1,108 names is not complete, according to Abby Figueroa, district spokeswoman, including only about a third of the district’s residential customers — essentially those who received penalties for guzzling more than 1,000 gallons of water per day. Still, it is an indication of the huge disparity in water use among the 1.3 million customers in 35 East Bay cities that receive water from the district.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District as a whole has cut water use by 21 percent since Jan. 1.

Beane issued a statement Friday saying that it wasn’t really his fault.

“Multiple irrigation leaks and a significant pool leak were recently discovered and are in the process of being corrected,” said the man who was using 5,996 gallons a day at home while his baseball team wallowed in last place. “We are more than displeased and embarrassed by the usage and are taking immediate action.”

More on this issue in California broadly.

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  • Denverite

    Is this the thread we use to talk about how the Broncos just held the Packers to 140 yards total offense and Aaron Rodgers averaged 2.0 yards every time he dropped back to pass?

    • It can also be the thread where we talk about Terry Collins’ inability to tell his pitchers they can’t pitch in the 9th or Lucas Duda’s outstanding throwing abilities.

      • Denverite

        Fair enough!

  • Jackov

    Who put money down on Familia blowing three saves?
    That person is a genius, Collins not so much.

    I am sure Californians appreciate the good people in places like Danville and Rancho Santa Fe increasing their water usage during the drought. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live, and no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.” Perhaps, giving rich people in Rancho Sante Fe $50K for lawn removal was a good deal.

    • On my last water bill it said we were using something between 250 and 300g/day, and could we cut back a little more please? Then I see assholes using upwards of 10k/day and it makes my blood boil.

      • Judas Peckerwood

        I hate to say this, but you’re really not showing the appropriate respect due to your betters.

        Do you really not understand how our American Democracy functions? If you work hard enough, someday that could be YOU being persecuted by the LOSERS who can’t afford to pay the going rate for potable water.

        Is THAT how you want to be remembered?

      • cpinva

        “Then I see assholes using upwards of 10k/day and it makes my blood boil.”

        that would definitely solve your water usage problem. better yet, why not do the Bay Area a favor, and boil Mr. Beane’s blood instead? his water greed problem solved, your blood pressure down. win-win!

    • RabbitIslandHermit

      Because if there’s one thing California’s known for it’s sky high property taxes.

  • Murc

    I feel like this is smoke and mirrors meant to detract from the real water-wasters, which are agribusiness.

    It’s like, are these rich asshole residential users who are spraying it around willy-nilly deserving of opprobrium? Yes, absolutely. But so, so much of the news I see out of California about the ongoing drought is about just that; residential use. People being urged to curtail their water use. People being shamed for using too much water in their daily lives.

    Maybe the focus should be on people growing almonds and cotton and rice in places they shouldn’t be growing almonds and cotton and rice instead. You know? Places that regard using six thousand gallons of water a day as a rounding error. Those should be front and center.

    It just feels like a distraction.

    • East Bay MUD, the agency in question, does not deal with agribusiness customers. They aren’t trying to distract people away from anything.

    • cpinva

      agreed. same goes for TX, where the agribusinesses are draining the aquifers exponentially faster than they can refill.

    • willp

      Yea, urban areas account for, what, 10% of California’s water usage?

      It’s hard to understand water usage in terms of absolute numbers, or large numbers generally. It’s easy for people to understand things like large pools or huge manicured gardens though so those get media attention. Maybe this is the water usage version of the apocrvaphyl Stalin quote (“6,000 gallons of water is a tragedy, 6,000,000,000 is a statistic”)

      There’s also something, I dunno, voyeuristic about the whole thing? Isn’t this in the same genre as MTV Cribs and Keeping up with the Kardashians? People love reading about the perceived excesses of the rich.

      • Judas Peckerwood

        People love reading about the perceived excesses of the rich.


        • willp

          Well, yea, sure. It’s an objective fact that the rich spend more (duh). That doesn’t mean the body of media that exposes rich peoples’ behaviour (cars! houses! yachts!) is some kind of neutral mirror of reality.

          The rich are probably much more prudent and boring that shows like My Super Sweet 16 or ‘sneak peeks’ into various opulent settings would lead people to believe.

          • RabbitIslandHermit

            AFAICT buying fancy cars/houses/planes/yachts is pretty typical boring rich person behavior. At least, my insanely wealthy relative is a proud yacht and Lear owner, and growing up near Rancho Santa Fe there were as many Mercedes(es?) as Toyotas. It’s not even a matter of imprudence since a lot of these people have more money than they could ever waste.

    • Jackov

      ‘Almonds, WTF?’ had some traction but a) agribussiness was spared the mandatory reduction in the spring b) the growers upped their PR game.

      For local media, it is much easier to get information on urban water wasters who are on a metered system than agricultural operations that are drilling deeper wells or irrigation districts gaming the system. Joe Cali likely thinks agriculture is ‘doing its share’ to conserve, so he focuses on those who are not.

      • sparks

        From what I read in an article one of the most wasteful crops in CA is alfalfa for fodder. Most of it is shipped overseas.

      • Murc

        ‘Almonds, WTF?’ had some traction but a) agribussiness was spared the mandatory reduction in the spring b) the growers upped their PR game.

        That’s exactly the point where I stopped taking the State of California’s efforts to resolve their water problems seriously. They know precisely where the reductions need to come from, they’re just too chicken-shit to do it.

        At some point I fully anticipate that LA will be under draconian water rationing that makes YA dystopian fiction generous while rice and almond growers are still hosing it around freely.

        • Stag Party Palin

          I can remember when non-ag use was around 7%. Today it’s around 17%, still a small number.

          One of the problems about regulating ag is that a lot of the water is granted under federal contracts, so the state can’t do anything. The whole issue is a Gordian Knot, and the only way it will be “solved” is with the Sword of Ultimate Drought. I’m guessing this will happen about three years into the next Democratic majority in Congress, with laws passed to change all the pre-1900 water laws. So say, 20-30 years from now?

        • The Dark Avenger

          rice is gown mainly in the north, in Colusa county, and the northern part of CA has been hit pretty hard by the drought. Southern Caliornis gets a lot,of,water from elsewhere, so. At least we’re not Iran:

          Iran’s self-inflicted water shortage stems from its exploiting 97% of its surface waters. The international benchmark for surface water use is 40%, which by comparison points to the magnitude of water mismanagement in Iran.
          The push for agricultural self-sufficiency in the past led to over-consumption of water reserves, which in turn undermined development. According to Kalantari, a number of political stakeholders dismissed sustainable development as a Western concept lacking utility in Iran.
          Dam building, once considered a sign of progress, dried up the nation’s rivers and other waterways through poorly conceived projects.
          Iran must almost halve its annual water consumption, that is, reduce it from the current 96 billion cubic meters to 56 billion. Such an effort will require up to $8 billion in investments and include major rethinking about agriculture to halve consumption in that sector.
          The government needs to aggressively promote a new attitude toward water to reduce consumption and replenish renewable resources.

  • Darkrose

    Both Sides (of Bay Area baseball) do it: Matt Cain was on the most recent list of water hogs.

  • LosGatosCA

    My lawn hasn’t been watered since July. And I’m allowed to do it 2x a week.

    And my lawn is not the worst in the neighborhood, not even close.

  • patrick II

    Last Updated Jul 9, 2015 7:55 PM EDT

    LOS ANGELES – Actor Tom Selleck has reached a tentative settlement with the water district in Ventura County that accused him of stealing water and bringing it across district boundaries during the California drought, The Los Angeles Times reports…
    …The water district sued Selleck, claiming the star of the crime shows “Magnum, P.I.” and “Blue Bloods” stole truckloads of water from a public hydrant and brought it to his ranch in drought-stricken California.

    He’s not really an officer of the law, he just plays one on tv.

  • I heard on NPR this morning about Saudi agribusiness buying farms in Arizona, and now California, to grow hay and alfalfa.

    The crops are then shipped to Saudi Arabia for their beef industry.

    So Arizona is essentially exporting water, in the middle of a drought.

    I’m sure this will end well.

  • joe from Lowell

    While we’re talking water, you’d be surprised how much you can collect if you put a bucket outside below a window AC unit. Up to five gallons a day for watering the flowers and tomatoes.

    • The Dark Avenger

      Swamp coolers that are still used here the Central Valley draw hot dry air through a wet pad that cools and humidifies the air at the same time.

      I once talked to a good ol’ boy from Alabama who tried to make one function in the summer heat at 90% humidity. Needless to,say, his experiment didn’t work very well.

  • Malaclypse

    “Do you know what they’re thinking?” Yueh asked.

    “You profess to read minds?” she asked.

    “Those minds,” he said. “They look at those trees and they think; ‘There are one hundred of us.’ That’s what they think.”

    She turned a puzzled frown on him. “Why?”

    “Those are date palms,” he said. “One date palm requires forty liters of water a day. A man requires but eight liters. A palm, then, equals five men. There are twenty palms out there – one hundred men.”

    • Vance Maverick

      I was going to ask what this was from — judging by the style it had to be classic SF — but of course Google knows.

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