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


The sprawling West Austin home of U.S. Rep. Michael 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 1 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 usage redacted from public records.

However, the McCauls did use more than 1.4 million gallons last year. That’s known because the resident who is 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 the Republican’s congressional office said the McCauls have had chronic troubles with their water pipes. When asked how long they had been dealing with this problem, the spokeswoman did not provide 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 used by the McCauls in 2017 would fill an Olympic-size swimming pool at least twice, and the weight of the liquid would be 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 Boulevard (Loop 1), typically in homes on the outskirts of West Lake Hills near Lake Austin or in the West Austin hills.



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