U.S. Water News Online
SALT LAKE CITY -- The top of Salt Lake City Public
Utilities Department's list of residential water users hasn't
changed, although the amount has dropped off from 2002.
Insurance mogul Ronald Gunnell's bill for his suburban estate was
$12,140 for 7.1 million gallons.
"I didn't realize we were using that much water," Gunnell said.
Gunnell's 40,000-square-foot home sits on 7 acres of landscaping
surrounded by 17 acres of horse pasture and woodlands in Holladay.
The Salt Lake Tribune compiled the 12 biggest residential water
users of 2003 through records obtained from the Public Utilities
Department under the state open-records law.
According to The Tribune, Gunnell topped the list for the third
straight year. But his consumption was 24 percent less than the 9
million-plus gallons he consumed in each of the previous two years.
Lisa F. Wirthlin's northeast home in the Avenues was second on the
list at 5.6 million gallons. Former Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone,
who signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer as a free agent
but still owns his home here, received more than 3.3 million gallons.
Many of the larger users have dropped considerably. The city
adopted a new rate structure last year, basing the billing on
"blocks" of water use that increase in price-per-unit.
"Most of these people saw a doubling of their bills last year, and
that got their attention," said Jim Lewis, finance administrator for
the city utilities department.
With the state mired in another year of drought, officials are
asking residents to conserve water. They cite overwatering lawns and
gardens as one of the biggest wastes, but can only do so much to
"We can't raise our rates just because we feel we have the moral
imperative to do so," said city water conservation director Stephanie
Duer. "We hope these people will learn to use less."
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