Decades before someone coined the Twitter hashtag #droughtshaming and people began posting YouTube videos of their neighbors’ drowning lawns, California water suppliers encouraged conservation by releasing the names of their biggest water hogs.
Among these wealthy and powerful water guzzlers was then-San Diego Union-Tribune publisher Helen Copley, who often saturated her La Jolla property with more than 10,000 gallons a day. “I don’t doubt for one minute that I might be the biggest user,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1991.
Things are different today.
As California struggles through its worst dry spell on record, water providers such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have refused to divulge the names of California’s top residential water users, including one Bel-Air household that consumed 11.8 million gallons of water in a year — more than 90 times that of an average household.