Austin’s top single-family water user in 2017: a U.S. congressman


The sprawling West Austin home of Congressman Mike McCaul used more city-supplied water than any other single-family residence in 2017, according to the Austin water utility.

McCaul’s hillside home near Lake Austin was one of 22 residences calculated to have used more than one million gallons of city water in 2017. The exact amount of water consumed at McCaul’s $7.3 million hillside home is unclear because the family elected to have some information about their usage redacted from public records.

However, the McCauls did use more than 1.4 million gallons of water last year. That’s known because the resident listed second on the city’s usage list, Betsy Abell, president of the Buena Vista Foundation, used 1,400,900 gallons at her home near Pease Park.

A spokeswoman for McCaul’s congressional office said the McCauls have had chronic troubles with their water pipes. When asked how long the McCauls had been dealing with this problem, the spokeswoman did not respond with an answer.

The McCauls have appeared near the top of Austin’s residential water-usage lists several times in the past decade, including in 2011 when a spokesman for the congressman also cited faulty water pipes. In 2016, the McCauls were listed sixth among the city’s top water users, calculated to have used somewhere between 1,366,100 and 1,376,000 gallons.

According to Austin Water, the utility’s average residential customer uses about 70,000 gallons a year.

The amount of water used by the McCauls in 2017, meanwhile, would fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool at least twice, and weight of the liquid would register at least 11,676,000 pounds, nearly twice as heavy as the Saturn-V rocket that propelled man to the moon.

Local utility activist Paul Robbins provided the water usage information to the Statesman, and the newspaper verified the figures with Austin Water.

“These people have wealth that most of us in the city could not imagine,” Robbins told the Statesman. “It would be easy for them to hire someone that could help them save water. They simply just don’t care.”

Of the city’s top-10 single-family water consumers in 2017, all but one live west of MoPac, typically in homes on the outskirts of West Lake Hills near Lake Austin or in the West Austin hills.

Top 10 in city water usage

According to Austin Water records, these customers used the most city-supplied water at their residences in 2017:

CustomerZip codeUsage amount (gallons)
Linda McCaulRedactedRedacted
Betsy Abell 787031,400,900
Lana Russell787031,357,000
Melissa Eiland787461,345,400
Colleen Gardner784761,302,500
Madeleine Marco787461,260,700
Neal JonesRedactedRedacted
Thomas Vallone787301,170,800
Michelle MooreRedactedRedacted
Susan Farmer787461,130,900



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