This story was originally published by Reveal and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Los Angeles officials have steadfastly refused to identify the Wet Prince of Bel Air, the homeowner who pumped an astonishing 11.8 million gallons of water during a single year of California’s crippling drought.
The city said naming water-wasting customers wasn’t in the public interest, even after Reveal found last fall from The Center for Investigative Reporting that 100 residents of wealthy neighborhoods on the Westside of L.A. were pumping millions of gallons of water apiece, drought or no. And one household in Bel Air was using enough water for 90 families.
So we decided to figure it out ourselves. The hard way. Using satellite images, an algorithm developed to track drought and deforestation, and equations used in landscape planning, we identified seven of the most likely culprits.
Call these mega-water users Bel Air’s wet princes and princesses. The estimates aren’t precise enough to pinpoint one specific estate as the worst. But, not surprising considering the neighborhood, this thirsty group includes some of the wealthiest people in ... Read more