Money Belt is mega-wet

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It's always interesting to see the Money Belt make an appearance in unexpected ways. The latest manifestation is in a map of water usage by neighborhood generated by the Tulsa World from city utility records.

The neighborhoods with heaviest usage -- an average of 125,000 gallons per year and up -- fall along a narrow band from Maple Ridge through Utica Square through Southern Hills and to the gated communities of south Tulsa -- with a slight gap between I-44 and Joe Creek. Maps of the highest priced homes, of members of city boards and commissions, of precincts with the greatest percentage support for tax increases -- all follow a similar pattern. Correlation does not imply causation, but it's interesting nonetheless and together with the PLANiTULSA polling this pattern suggests a kind of subculture different from the rest of the city.

According to the World's story about water usage, the average annual use for single-family homes is about 83,000 gallons.

The Tulsa World has provided a way to search the Tulsa water use database, and I've been having a little fun with it. Our usage, for the record, about 10% higher than the average and higher than I'd like, but not bad with five people in the house, a large yard to water (occasionally) and a small fishpond to top off in summer.

Here's how our city elected officials measure up for annual water use in gallons, based on the address on their filing form:

Dewey Bartlett Jr.
Mayor           138,000
Preston Doerflinger
Auditor           327,000
Jack Henderson
Council District 1
Rick Westcott
Council District 2
Roscoe Turner
Council District 3
Maria Barnes
Council District 4
Chris Trail
Council District 5
Jim Mautino
Council District 6
John Eagleton
Council District 7
Bill Christiansen
Council District 8
G. T. Bynum
Council District 9

Our current mayor looks pretty conservative compared to previous incumbents, especially his immediate predecessor.

J. M. Hewgley Jr.
Bob LaFortune
Jim Inhofe
Rodger Randle
Bill LaFortune
Kathy Taylor
Dewey Bartlett Jr

Former Mayors Richard C. Crawford and M. Susan Savage no longer live in Tulsa. I couldn't find former Mayor Terry Young in the database.

Bartlett's annual usage pales compared to his main mayoral rival (Tom Adelson, 412,000 gals/yr) but is about four times as much as independents Mark Perkins (32,000) and Lawrence Kirkpatrick (33,000).

What about big institutional users? A search for Southern Hills turned up four accounts that seemed connected to the country club: 26,813,000 gallons per year. But the Southern Hills Marriott Hotel uses 30,067,000. Philbrook and its beautiful gardens use 11,089,000.

St. Francis Hospital? 219,766,000 gallons. That's a lot of handwashing.

Walmarts are big users. Interestingly, the Woodland Hills Walmart (6.9 million) uses almost twice as much water as the Admiral and Memorial Walmart (3.5 million). Irritated Tulsan would not be surprised.

The thirstiest Quik Trip in Tulsa is the truck stop at Admiral and 165th East Ave -- 2,552,000. The least thirsty -- about a tenth of the water -- is at Gilcrease Museum Road and the Sand Springs Expressway.

Lortondale Pool, a privately-owned pool (but the public can join as members), used 376,000 gallons last year. That's a lot, but not bad when divided out among the number of families that belong. It's certainly more reasonable than the consumption involved if each of those families had a private pool, however small.

Big Splash? 13,983,000.

Hmmm: On average, the six board members of Sustainable Tulsa use 173,167 gals/yr, a bit more than twice the average for a single-family home.

Our municipal customers: Owasso, 886 million gallons; Bixby, 1 billion; Jenks, 989 million; Glenpool, 298 million; Catoosa, 126 million; Sperry, 61 million; Skiatook, 62 million.

Rural water districts: Sapulpa Rural, 147 million; Osage County #15, 40 million; Wagoner County #4, 60 million.

What about Charles Hardt, our longtime city director of Public Works? Not in the database; he lives in Bixby, near 121st and Mingo.

The World story mentions that there are 140 single-family residential water customers that used over one million gallons in 2009. It doesn't mention that its own publisher and its publisher emeritus are among that number, using (according to their database) 2,258,000 and 2,763,000 gallons respectively. Thanks to both of them for giving us the chance to explore this data on their website.

UPDATE: I heard from City Auditor Preston Doerflinger that he's having his home checked for leaks tomorrow.

MORE: Here's a similar story on Oklahoma City's biggest water users in the Oklahoma Gazette from last May. Their biggest home customer used 2.26 million gallons in 2008 -- and that doesn't count the water he draws from his own wells. Surprisingly, their biggest commercial user only used 152 million gallons. The highest hospital on the list was Baptist Medical Center with 77 million gallons.

And Tulsa District 9 Councilor G. T. Bynum tweets, "After reading your water usage breakdown, it can truly be said that I represent my district!"

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You're right, I'm not surprised. It does make sense. Water is used for cleaning, which I'm not sure the Admiral Walmart does at all.

The A Team said:

(recycle)Michael Patton's, executive director of the Metropolitan Environmental Trust(M.E.T.) and poster boy for the green movement in Tulsa, household consumption is 274,000 gallons. So much for the reduce part of the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra.

My usage was 58,000.00 gal...

I'm good for 70,000.

Jason Carini said:

I stumbled across this article on water which added to your post. It helped give me a perspective on the long term use of water (especially with the green movement).

Route66News said:

I'm coming in late on this issue, but I find it unconscionable that the folks at Sustainable Tulsa are so wasteful with their water. Part of sustainability is conservation, and they've failed miserably in this aspect.

For the record, our household consumed just 24,000 gallons in the past year -- less than one-third of the Tulsa average. And I reckon that would have been lower by a couple thousand gallons if I hadn't absent-mindedly left the soaker hose on for a few additional hours during a heat wave last summer. Doh!

From what I've read about your conservation efforts at the House of the Lifted Lorax, I'm not surprised at that commendably low number.

Granted that aspects of urban design out of our individual control can impede sustainability, but there are plenty of things an individual can do to live more sustainably. My wife's cotton farmer uncle in west Texas put in a system to capture "gray water" for outdoor watering. (By the way, they don't irrigate cotton in west Texas -- the only water the plants get is what falls from the sky, and they have to plant the rows farther apart to compensate for the low rainfall.)

Don Author Profile Page said:

Only 48,000 for us and we don't try to conserve, nor do we have a particularly small lot. I thought this past year was pretty wet, don't remember having to water too much, but that should have been the same across the board. Interesting.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 8, 2010 10:53 PM.

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