Urban Fold

Lance Armstrong is #1 in Austin

Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong tops a list of heavy water users in a city trying hard to conserve while meeting rising demand during a drought and steady or rapid population growth.

A total of 222,900 gallons of water was used at Armstrong's home, according to the most recent city records available. That's about what 26 average Austin households use in a month. At a time when rainfall has been scarce and the city has imposed mandatory water restrictions, Armstrong is not the only Austinite using a lot of water.

The list of the top 10 water users reads like a cross-section of Austin culture: prominent lobbyist Neal "Buddy" Jones ranks third, tech executive Marc Hafner seventh and health-care magnate Robert Girling eighth. Country singer Jerry Jeff Walker rounds out the top 10. Among them, they used about 1.55 million gallons of water - enough to fill an enclosed football field 31/2 feet deep.

As Austin's population continues to grow, city officials worry about the availability of water. The city is planning to open a new treatment plant near Lake Travis to provide more water, but that won't happen until 2014.

In the meantime, the city's water demand will exceed its supply unless residents continue conserving, said Daryl Slusher, a former City Council member who now leads the water utility's conservation department.

Last year, the city imposed mandatory year-round water restrictions. Residents can't water their lawns between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., to avoid evaporation. Everyone except single-family homeowners can water only twice a week. And even those homes can use sprinklers only twice a week from May 1 to Sept. 30. Hand watering is not restricted."

Full Story: Armstrong tops list of city's largest water users

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