Home NEWS Local Scene There’s The Poor Man’s Drought – And Then There’s The Rich Man’s...

There’s The Poor Man’s Drought – And Then There’s The Rich Man’s Drought

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"Californians don't waste..." Or do they?

True to its word, and to the general acclaim of the so-called “Bucket Brigades” – those of us resigned to showering with a bucket in order to capture some of our precious H2O during this drought of ours – the East Bay Municipal Utility District Thursday released a “Guzzler’s List” of well-funded folk for whom the shortage is no more a bother than a sticky cork in a bottle of 2005 Château Pétrus.

Thursday’s list included many recognizable, some even familiar, captains of industry and a former Golden State Warrior who must shower – a lot – and apparently without benefit of a bucket.

Despite a supposedly state-wide struggle to stave off the impact of a fourth year of drought it appears the watchword for 1,098 EBMUD customers identified as “guzzlers” during a 60-day billing period appears to have been “let it flow.”

Topping the most recent EBMUD listing was Kumarakulasingan “Suri” Suriyakumar, president and chief executive of ARC Document Solutions, a Walnut Creek software company providing reprographic services to the construction industry. Suriyakumar, EBMUD officials said, consumed 9,611 gallons a day at his Diablo compound – a fair bit above the 250 gallons a day drawn by the average EBMUD customer.

While he topped the list of guzzlers, EBMUD officials said Suriyakumar was not alone, with the Top 20 consumers on their list using between 15 and 30 times more water than, well, the rest of us.

An Alamo resident, Michael Carvin, was second to Suriyakumar with 8,764 gallons of water recorded at his residence. Another Alamo man, developer Tom Seeno, rounded out the Top Three – using a hefty 7,841 gallons a day.

Also on the list was former Warrior Adonal Foyle of Orinda – who left the Warriors in 2010 and who consumed 2,979 gallons of water, high enough to make him 42nd in the list of 1,098.

EBMUD spokeswoman Abby Figueroa said the “Guzzlers” violated the agency’s Excessive Use Penalty Ordinance, which adds penalty fees to those who consume more than 80 units, or 59,840 gallons of water, in a single 60 day billing cycle.

One unit is 748 gallons.

And that’s a lot of shower buckets.

39 COMMENTS

  1. There is a Moraga family on the list that grows grapes to make wine. It is a full time vocation and they sell thier wine like any commercial winemaker. Beacuse they do this from thier personal residence they are flogged publicly as if they are recklessly filling Koi ponds and three story waterfalls in thier personal back yard amusement park. Apologies for the rant, but not all of the public disclosure is fair and feels a lot like nanny state whining to me.

  2. People are entitled to make their money and enjoy the rewards that money brings but flaunting requests to conserve is elitist and wrong, even if they can pay those penalties. Turn off their water for a week until they bring it down to manageable levels.

  3. I’ve been hit with the surcharges thanks to a big house full of teenagers(think piles of laundry and showers for people that smell terrible) not to mention landscaping I don’t want to have kill then replace for tens of thousands of dollars down the road. Despite conserving water on multiple fronts we are put in a category by EBMUD that is costing a small fortune. All of the demonizing using of these people may feel good but is really unproductive. Some of us are just being pragmatic with the rules they have laid down.

  4. These people have been told they are sucking up resources the state can not afford to waste. The fact that they can afford to pay the penalties levied against them for their over use does not excuse them from this behavior. do we have to have the massive mega house? the ego winery? all that landscaping? What gives you the right – besides your money – to save your lawn when your neighbor is painting his green and trying to conserve. This is pretty in your face. I care for two elder parents and our washer dryer are going all the time except when it is warm enough to hang dry. No breaks for me. This isn’t fair and I think a stronger message is needed because these people are obviously NOT GETTING THE MESSAGE while a lot of others are feeling the pain.

  5. There was a time when Americans could count on each other when things were bad – the bad news is that the last time that happned was in wwii. Enjoy your money. Enjoy our water.

  6. A stronger message is needed indeed. Send them a final billing (including fines), and turn their water off. Close their account. Let them shower at a hotel (they can afford it). Let them dine out on a nightly basis (they can afford that too). Let them face the humiliation of having family and friends over with no running water. Air their names (addresses withheld for security purposes) on the news on a NIGHTLY BASIS. They need a wake up call, and they need one now.

  7. I think we should publicly humiliate them on every news/social media outlet, put occupy EBMUD protesters in thier pools, hot tubs and ambient rain multi head showers…then take ALL of their money and redistribute it to homeless people.

  8. We pulled up our lawns long ago, put in flow restricters and drought tolerant landscaping. These people are arguing that they are spending to preserve their investment in landscaping. Our neighborhood looks like the mojave desert, theirs looks like the Amazon. We keep conserving and paying more… they keep using and paying more and saying it is ok BECAUSE they are paying. We are using water at an unprecedented rate during our 4th year of drought and these people chalk it up to a leak in their vineyard drip systems. Anyone ready to call bullshit? I am. What makes them so different besides the money in their offshore bank accounts?

  9. I use about 450 gallons a day which is more than the average. I have no regrets and don’t feel the least bit bad about it.

    If these people are paying the financial penalty for excessive water usage then I don’t care about their water consumption.

    If EBMUD were really concerned about water usage, meters would be read more frequently to catch heavy users or people with water leaks.

  10. I’m all for outing these people and can only hope that now their kids school friends will turn to them and say ‘so your dad is wasting all our water.’ When that gets back to dad and mom watch for the conservation to begin. If it doesn’t — turn it off and let the vineyard wither. Are we in an emergency situation or aren’t we?

  11. You guys are all uncritically swallowing the government’s narrative. Take a look at how much water is used for agricultural and environmental reasons. If you want water savings, look there. Demonizing a few outliers for high residential use is a distraction.

    Humans require about a gallon of water per person per day. All the rest is a luxury to one degree or another. Get a grip.

  12. I hope we one day mandate that people publicly disclose how much gasoline they buy and how much energy they consume from PG&E.

  13. The times they are a-changin. I know people who live in Galt in the cental valley and they did not even have a water meter until about a year ago. They were mad because the utility made them pay for it.

  14. I think News24 is losing me with these water articles. The articles resemble a JD editorial about his water usage views. Not digging it. The site has a habit of purposely leaving out names when reporting local crimes and police activity. Why the change when reporting EBMUD infractions?

    You pay for what you use so let’s move on. It’s an individual’s decision and no business of others. Too many nosy people looking to take cheap shots behind a screen and keyboard.

    For those outraged about water…go attack the Ag farmers in the valley, not a single family homeowner with a few acres of land.

    • Not digging it.” Okay, Tim, not everyone likes what we do or how we do it. We get that.

      The site has a habit of purposely leaving out names when reporting local crimes and police activity. Why the change when reporting EBMUD infractions?” Uh, no. And you don’t have to go far to see that people are routinely identified here…

      You pay for what you use so let’s move on. It’s an individual’s decision and no business of others. Too many nosy people looking to take cheap shots behind a screen and keyboard.” Not buying that, Tim, sorry. If you dip from a shared pond there should be some consideration for others using the same pond. Having more money than others does not entitle you to more of one of life’s essentials. We’ll argue that point til the cows come home… thirsty.

  15. If EBMUD and folks commenting on here really cared about water conservation then the daily usage would be based on number of occupants. Why should a house with one or two people not be penalized FAR, FAR, FAR below the 1000 gallon a day threshold? And why shouldn’t a house with 8 family members be allotted more water than the house with two family members?

  16. Also, if water is at such a premium, why hasn’t all new construction been banned? If we don’t have enough water for current residents why are we allowing new residents in?

  17. Why no outrage about the 3 pools at Soda Aquatics staying filled to the top all summer long? How about the new Moraga Town Meeting center with has a nice new lawn (and watering schedule to keep it green). Residential water use is far less than industry and government. Focus the argument on areas that will have an impact.

    News24 – I like what you do. I respect what you do. I’ve followed you since moving to this quiet cow town 5 years ago. I’ve just noticed the water articles have a subtle shift in tone.

    • Thanks for the note, Tim, and we like hearing from our readers. As for our outrage, it is broad and covers many topics – but as you point out if we give vent to it to often then it becomes a matter of it appearing as a personalized outrage instead of a broad and communal outrage – and therefore boring to some and noted as such by folks like you. We feel the Guzzler’s List had a broad and community-based outrage behind it and our coverage was tame in comparison to other treatments of the same story – not that that matters to us, much. We do what we do and make no apologies.

      We’ve highlighted several instances of water waste in recent months and questioned the thinking behind that waste. And we’ll continue to do so, especially when these incidents are brought to us. We’ve questioned the thinking behind other issues in recent years, too, and if those issues become identified with us that’s the inherent risk we run in expressing our outrage.

      This is a nice area. We’ve lived in it a long time. But that’s not to say there aren’t things that are wrong here and that need to be addressed. We intend to keep doing that – we’re just wired that way.

  18. so many of the angry comments, the “outing” of EBMUD customers and the tone of the article reflect the stirring up of resentment that is too common in our society. Let’s wring our hands and condemn others who we resent, perhaps because they use a lot of water in a drought or maybe because they have more money and stuff than us and that pisses us off. I don’t honestly care. As someone else said if we were serious about reducing waste we would be going after large industrial users and we are not. If high residential users are dumb enough to pay big fat premiums for thier water then that is good enough for me.

  19. @Manny – They can keep their “stuff.” Keep your house. Keep your cars. Just stop using up all our water.

  20. “This is an unusual situation. And all of us have to do a little bit more than normal to try to help the next person.”

    An Orinda man on the list said this AFTER he was identified. FOUR YEARS into this emergency he gets it. I hope the others do too. I agree with some posters, some are being singled out while others are being allowed to consume on a large scale and that is wrong.

  21. Since this thread seems to have withered and died like a Jeb Bush candidacy, I’ll throw out a question here and ask if anyone noticed the new white paint to mark parking places on Rheem Blvd in Moraga near the theater? There is an undated notice for this on the Town website with no explanation. Is this tied to News24’s earlier story of angry business owners upset that the city offices are appropriating their parking? I’d like to know if this is the council’s solution. The roads and other infrastructure is too limited already for the development the council approved, and now one of the few four lane streets is being constricted and downgraded to two lanes so the city can have their parking? And since it’s on the wrong side of the street, people will be encouraged to jaywalk in front of the police station? Please tell me I’m wrong about why this was done. That would just be too stupid to believe. (sorry if this is in the wrong place but I don’t see anywhere to ask questions)

    • Hey, Nap… watch this space for more on the water thing, today’s precipitation taken into account. Public reaction like a “coiled spring,” we feel. We’ll probably get back to prior commentary levels once the skies clear and we warm again.

      As for your not finding an appropriate place to ask questions, if you have them of the site you can always use our Tip Line for, well, tips and talk. Huge usage there. And if you want to put something out to the general public, you can always pen a Letter to the Editor, an easy to use interface on our menu bar and widely read when people have something to say… Thanks for reading, and writing!

  22. Thank you Mr. News. I thought this water article was highly entertaining in several ways. For one, obviously a nerve was hit. Several readers with conservative views on property rights or who generally distrust government have strong opinions here. Anyway, I suspect in one way or another you will have to follow up on this parking story. Putting parallel parking on the downslope of Rheem may lead to some rather nasty auto or pedestrian accidents.

    • Hitting nerves… yes, we do that from time to time. Following up the dental work with a sweet “feel good” yarn coming up!

  23. Keep twanging those nerve endings. It needs to be done and I come here because you guys do it. BTW it is pretty insane to hear people argue they have more rights to more water because they can pay for it. Turning protest against that approach into envy of the rich and their toys is —- sick.

  24. Sometimes you have to hit a nerve before you can fix the tooth. It help identify what is broken. And its pretty clear this whole process has serious flaws in it. I’m not opposed to do what some have advised here and turning off water to those who fail to conserve over time. The ex Warrior seemed like a nice guy and genuinely concerned but to say he has just been made aware of the problem doesn’t wash. He’s upset he was identifieid and who wouldn’t be. Now hes saying the right things. I hope he can do something about it. And no I don’t want his house.

  25. @Trask said “it is pretty insane to hear people argue they have more rights to more water because they can pay for it”

    Umm….huh? Really? There is nothing magic about water. The way to get rights to anything is to pay for it, no? Water is not scarce. Storage, distribution and treatment capacity are scare. And money can buy more of all those things. I don’t get your point. All water beyond survival baseline is a luxury. If not by charging more money for more stuff (whether water, electricity, food, whatever), then how is society supposed to decide who gets what?

  26. @Conley, if winning is defined as “able to buy the most stuff,” then the statement is an empty tautology which logically can’t, by itself, be troubling. If you meant something different, then I’m not sure what you mean.

    Perhaps you mean: “it troubles me that some people have a lot of money.”

  27. Amazing that people are actually defending the egregious and indefensible use of our most valuable resource by people who argue they are entitled because they have more money than the rest of us. Shame on you. Shame.

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