An oil executive, a tech entrepreneur and Oakland Athletics mastermind Billy Beane are among 1,100 East Bay residents who paid fines for using too much water during California’s drought.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District on Thursday released a list of customers who were hit with monetary penalties because they pumped about 1,000 gallons of water per day during the past two months.
That’s compared to what the average residential customer uses: about 250 gallons per day.
Most of the people who violated the district’s new water conservation ordinance live in pricey suburbs of Contra Costa County.
Beane, the freewheeling baseball executive portrayed by Brad Pitt in the movie “Moneyball,” pumped nearly 6,000 gallons per day since July 1 at his 2-acre property in Danville’s Blackhawk subdivision, records show. That’s a rate of about 2.1 million gallons per year. At that pace, Beane would be subject to a fine of about $800, based on the district’s excessive use penalty ordinance.
Beane ranked third on the district’s list of mega-users during the two-month billing period.
The biggest user of all was George Kirkland, longtime vice chairman of Chevron Corp., who retired from the company in June.
Kirkland has a vineyard at his 4-acre Danville home, according to news accounts. He pumped 12,500 gallons per day – a rate of 4.5 million gallons per year. His fine should be about $1,800.
No. 2 on the violation list was Mark Pine, founder of the e-commerce website Ubokia and a Republican Party campaign contributor. He pumped more than 8,000 gallons per day at his 7-acre estate in Alamo, site of a 2012 fundraiser for Rick Santorum, then a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.
The fourth-biggest user was Dane Bigham. He pumped 5,700 gallons per day at his four-bedroom home in Walnut Creek, which is on a .44-acre lot. LinkedIn lists a Dane Bigham in Walnut Creek as a software developer and Boy Scout leader.
EBMUD’s excessive use penalty ordinance went into effect July 1. The district released the list of violators in response to requests made by Reveal and other news outlets under terms of the state’s Public Records Act.
But the district won’t disclose the names of mega-users who pumped millions of gallons of water while the drought was underway – but before the penalty ordinance was enacted. Those users are entitled to their privacy, the district says.
As Reveal has reported, in the 12 months ending April 1, the district’s top 100 residential customers on average used 1.4 million gallons of water apiece.
That’s a rate of about 3,900 gallons per day – 15 times the average.
The district’s biggest residential customer during that year lived in the wealthy enclave of Diablo, near the Diablo Country Club. This customer pumped 3.5 million gallons of water for the year, and nine other Diablo residents used 1.1 million gallons or more.
The current list of violators didn’t include anybody from Diablo. The district says it will disclose additional violators in the coming weeks.
“There will be more names,” said Abby Figueroa, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Reveal’s Oct. 1 story on the state’s largest residential user has prompted an increased focus on mega-users, mainly in Los Angeles, where one household used nearly 12 million gallons of water in one year – enough for 90 households. The Los Angeles City Council has since demanded a crackdown on its heaviest users, and the Sacramento Bee editorial page has advocated for repealing the law that keeps the names of the biggest water guzzlers secret.
This story was edited by Andrew Donohue and copy edited by Sheela Kamath.
Katharine Mieszkowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Lance Williams can be reached at email@example.com. Follow them on Twitter: @kmieszkowski and @LanceWCIR.