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September 12th, 2007 James Pitkin, Rachel Schiff | News Stories
 

Hydro Hogs

These people waste so much water, it's scary.

     
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Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "When the well is dry, we know the worth of water."

In Portland, whose water glass always seems to be full, the abundance is both a blessing and a curse. Nestled between two rivers, doused by 37 inches of rain in an average year and fed by Bull Run Reservoir, the state's largest source of drinking water, Portland boasts more than enough H2O to meet our needs.

The danger lies in succumbing to gluttony and failing to see water for what it is—a resource that nevertheless needs to be conserved. This summer brought a timely reminder of that.

An unusually dry spring meant the Bull Run watershed's reservoirs began losing more water than wilderness streams put back into them on May 27, a month earlier than normal. The Portland Water Bureau, as it does every year, began pumping groundwater to meet summer demand as well. It was a warning that even Portland's rain isn't always dependable—as those who lived through the city's 1992 water shortage already knew.

But there's another reason water consumption is of concern—residential water use is one of the country's biggest energy sinkholes.

It takes a huge amount of power to treat and deliver America's public water—about 75 billion kilowatt hours a year, according to Don Elder of River Network, a Portland-based nonprofit. That's enough electricity to power 7 million homes for a year.

Heating household water is even more costly, draining 104 billion kilowatt hours a year—more than it takes to light every home in America for a year. Leaving the hot water faucet on for five minutes is the same as running a 60-watt bulb for 14 hours, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It's somewhat less true for Portland. Here we save energy on pumping because Bull Run is uphill from us, and we don't have to filter the water because it's already pure. But that's all the more reason not to strain the supply we have.

"If we don't use our existing sources wisely, we will have to turn elsewhere, and the impact will be huge from an energy perspective," Elder says.

Compared with the rest of the country, Portlanders are downright miserly when it comes to conserving water. The average household here goes through just 153 gallons a day—200 fewer than the national average.

But not everyone is doing their part, as WW reveals in our annual Hydro Hogs issue. For the sixth time since 2001, we're naming names of the biggest residential water users in the Portland area.

How wet are they? This year's Hogs on average splashed 16 times more water than the typical Portland household. City officials say if everyone used that much, the system couldn't keep up.

To put our Hogs in context, we include the number of gallons they used from July 2006 through June 2007, their annual water bills (rates differ from district to district), the size of their properties and the market values on their homes, according to county assessors—though these are generally lower than what the homes would fetch if sold today.

We split our Hogs into two lists: Portland Water Bureau customers (some of whom have Lake Oswego addresses), and those served by other water districts in the metro area. If there was evidence someone had a substantial water leak, we removed them from the list.

PORTLAND WATER BUREAU'S TOP 10


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1. Andrew and Tiffany Wiederhorn
Southwest Greenleaf Drive, Southwest Hills
Water used: 1,044,956 gallons—enough to last a herd of 238 cows a whole year.
Annual bill: $2,473
Previous rankings: No. 12 in 2002, No. 4 in 2003, No. 3 in 2004, No. 4 in 2006.
Water-use change: Doubled from 2006.
Property: The Wiederhorns' 10-bedroom, $7.61 million Cape Cod had a black Mercedes parked in the circular drive when we peeked through the copper gates, adorned with see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil monkeys. The 2.03-acre grounds brimmed with lush vegetation, and a 9-foot hedge topped the forbidding gray stone walls surrounding the property.

Making our list for a record-breaking fifth year, the Wiederhorns have proven to be Portland's most dependable Hydro Hogs. This year they sucked down more water than ever before, enough to float them to the No. 1 spot for the first time ever. To celebrate, the couple played footsie with WW, returning our phone calls but then refusing to talk on the record. Their moments in the spotlight have rarely been flattering—Andrew made a fortune as a financier, then did 18 months in federal prison for filing a false tax return and paying an illegal gratuity. Last month, The Oregonian reported he was late paying back a $1.1 million loan from his own company, Fog Cutter Capital Group Inc., which runs a chain of burger joints in California. That came after O reporter Tom Hallman Jr. was suspended two weeks without pay in March for accepting free downtown parking from Wiederhorn, whom Hallman had previously profiled.

2. Howard Hedinger
Southwest Arthur Way, Southwest Hills
Water used: 919,292 gallons—enough to fill the entire Ira Keller Fountain 12 times.
Annual bill: $2,175
Previous rankings: Tied for No. 6 in 2006.
Water-use change: Up 87 percent from 2006.
Property: Set behind a spiked wrought-iron fence, Hedinger's $1.61 million, 4,000-square-foot home could barely be seen through the drooping evergreens in his grass-floored, 0.38-acre rainforest of a yard, filled with ferns and featuring a statue of a stag peeping over a trimmed hedge. Out front, the soil was freshly damp in the garden next to the driveway.

Hedinger, a steel tycoon and head of American Industries Inc., an investments house, declined to comment except to ask curtly if Portland is experiencing a water shortage. Among gossips, Hedinger is best remembered as the ex-husband of Juanita Howard, one of Meier & Frank's most celebrated underwear models. More recently, he dated suburban Hog No. 1, Traci Parker. Hedinger can often be found holding forth at Wildwood Restaurant & Bar in Northwest Portland, where he's part owner.

3. Jack and Lynn Loacker
Southwest Mill Street, Sylvan Highlands
Water used: 911,064 gallons—enough to give a shower to every concertgoer in a sold-out Carnegie Hall, plus the orchestra, during two performances of Handel's Water Music.
Annual bill: $2,155
Property: We couldn't see the Loackers' three-bedroom, $1.51 million home through the front gate adorned with iron game birds. Instead, we were left to gaze at 1.5 acres of perfectly green grass, towering evergreens and thousands of purple petunias that lined the lawn and filled the flower boxes atop the gate.

Known as deep-pocketed patrons of music and the arts, and nominated "Best Philanthropists 2004" in an Oregonian column by Gerry Frank, the Loackers weren't pleased to hear they'd made our list. Lynn says the water mostly went into the yard, but "if you look at my lawn, you wouldn't think so. It's brown." She chaired the Oregon Symphony board of directors from 1997 to 2000 and also founded the nonprofit Portland Advocates for Student Arts. Jack, a retired lawyer and pilot who served in the U.S. Air Force and the Oregon Air National Guard, made headlines when he ejected from a burning plane near the Portland airport in 1962. He's a member of the Oregon State Aviation

Board and donated $2,500 each to City Council candidates Nick Fish and Randy Leonard in 2002.

4. Stan and Laurie Renecker
Southwest Hewett Boulevard, West Slope
Water used: 867,680 gallons—enough to give an 8-ounce glass of water to all 13.9 million people in Malawi.
Annual bill: $2,053
Property: The Reneckers' $1.84 million property boasts a six-bedroom white plantation home on 1.46 acres of sloping, terraced gardens. Ferns flourished in wet soil, and the grass was so green it glowed in the noon sun. A gaggle of vehicles in the driveway hinted at a family get-together.

"I've got plenty of things to do without talking to you," said Stan when we knocked on the door. "We have a large property, OK?" Stan was a 1981 graduate of Willamette University's law school and is managing director of acquisitions at the Campbell Group LLC in Portland, which invests in timber property. He and Laurie once paid for daughter Katie to train with Russian gymnastics star Dmitri Bilozertchev at the Multnomah Athletic Club.

5. Harold and Arlene Schnitzer
Southwest Scholls Ferry Road, West Slope
Water used: 831,028 gallons—if it were champagne, it would be enough to give every audience member in a sold-out Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall 7,663 glasses.
Annual bill: $1,996
Property: The elder Schnitzers' $1.99 million estate is dotted with abstract metal sculptures towering over immaculately maintained 3.33-acre grounds. Their rambling six-bedroom ranch home features a shake roof and a wrap-around driveway so sprawling it looks more like a parking lot, though the asphalt was empty of cars when we stopped by.

Of the five Schnitzer brothers who were heirs to the family scrap-metal fortune, Harold, now 84 (and father of Hog No. 8, Jordan Schnitzer), peeled off to build a real-estate empire instead. Arlene, who gave her name and money to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall downtown, called WW to complain after we knocked on her door that we had trespassed. She declined to talk on the record about water. Attempts to elicit information from the housekeeper were likewise futile.

6. Hector and Viviana Marquez
Northwest Wind Ridge Drive, Forest Park
Water used: 792,880 gallons—enough to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Annual bill: $1,876
Property: The road into Forest Park's gated Wind Ridge development was open, so we made it as far as the shiny steel gate blocking off the driveway to the $4.41 million Marquez estate. Through the evergreens, we could make out a modern guest house and the barest glimpse of their 11,000-square-foot home set on 9.74 acres of forest.

Co-owner of Oregon Tile & Marble in Portland, Hector also heads a group of investment companies with real-estate interests around the Northwest. Of learning he was a Hydro Hog, he said: "It blew my mind. It's not that I'm a hog. The only thing that it can be is the water in the pool."

7. Roger and Becky Edwards
Southwest Orchard Hill, Lake Oswego
Water used: 787,644 gallons—enough to fill 2,864 king-sized water beds.
Annual bill: $1,863
Previous rankings: No. 10 in 2006.
Water-use change: Up 72 percent from 2006.
Property: The gate to the Edwards' $1.05 million property is flanked by rows of trimmed hedges that close the yard off from the suburban street out front. Inside sits 0.69 acres of neatly manicured lawn, with clumps of begonias hugging the base of each young tree along the driveway. Apparently gas is another resource the family can afford in quantity—the two-story bungalow with white trim had a shiny SUV and a large-cab pickup parked in the drive.

Roger, president of Lake Oswego's Silver Oak Custom Homes Inc., has been a campaign contributor to Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank Bearden. His company website, which features a waterfall on the home page, says the company specializes in building homes worth $1 million and up in suburban Lake O, Dunthorpe and Stafford. The Edwards family d

idn't respond to requests for comment, though their 17-year-old son and the family dog approached to say hi when we parked outside the gate.

8. Mina and Jordan Schnitzer
Southwest Hessler Drive, Southwest Hills
Water used: 784,652 gallons—enough to flood their entire property to a depth of one foot and still have enough water left over to last six average Portland families a year.
Annual bill: $1,857
Previous rankings: No. 7 in 2001, No. 1 in 2003, tied for No. 6 in 2006.
Water-use change: Up 60 percent from 2006.
Property: The Schnitzers' 1.39-acre lawn sports a Japanese garden, with an eight-tiered stone pagoda towering over elaborately trimmed Asian foliage. A pair of stone lions guards the driveway to the $1.56 million home with views of South Waterfront and Mount Hood.

Heir to his father's real-estate fortune (see Hog No. 5), Jordan returned our call only to ask how much we knew about water bills. He was under the mistaken impression that the Portland Water Bureau charges more per gallon to people who use more (it used to, and some other water districts, such as Palatine Hill, still do). At first Jordan defended his water use by the size of his lawn, but when we told him how much he had used in the year, even he was shocked. "Wow, that's really disturbing," he said. "That is a disaster." At the last minute, Jordan called to say that a large leak had been found at his property, but he did not provide evidence before press time.

9. Gregg and Christine Miller
Northeast Alameda Street, Sabin (Northeast Portland)
Water used: 753,236 gallons—it would take 52 days to pump this amount of gasoline at a typical gas station, with one pump working continuously 24 hours a day.
Annual bill: $1,782
Previous rankings: No. 15 in 2001, No. 10 in 2002, No. 7 in 2003.
Property: According to a write-up two years back in The Oregonian's real-estate pages, after the Millers bought this six-bedroom English-style Tudor in 1999 they poured more than $500,000 into restoring the gardens, brickwork and period light fixtures. When we walked by, the family was setting up for an outdoor birthday party on the 0.63-acre grounds, valued at $3.34 million, laying out wine on white tablecloths beside the rose bushes, in front of a weeping willow.

Gregg, president of Northwest Pump & Equipment and a longtime Hydro Hogs alum, called it "just another year" of water use at the Miller home. "The biggest yards use the most water," he said of his half-acre abode. "That's not hard to figure out." The Millers get extra credit for being the only Hogs from the east side this year.

10. Cindy and Timothy Smith
Northwest Red Cedar Court, Forest Park
Water used: 742,764 gallons—9.5 million kids would have to pee their pants to create that much liquid.
Annual bill: $1,758
Property: The Smiths' new three-story, $1.56 million home sits on 0.98 acres in a new subdivision off Skyline Boulevard. The house sports four bathrooms and a well-manicured lawn.

The Smiths own and run the Goddard School in Portland, a private preschool on Northwest Saltzman Road (full-time tuition is $900 a month). They declined to comment at length, but Cindy said she thinks "the pond has a leak." She added: "We cannot get the people who installed it to do something about it. We've been working on that." When WW stopped by to snap a photo, Cindy ran out of the house in her workout clothes and used a cell phone to call the police, saying it was an emergency and that she needed an officer to respond immediately. We left our card with Cindy at the scene but never heard back from Portland's finest.

WATER DISTRICTS OUTSIDE OF PORTLAND: THE TOP 15


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1. Traci Parker
Southwest Military Road, Dunthorpe
Water used: 1,734,612 gallons—enough to thoroughly water 18,069 rose bushes for an entire summer.
Annual bill: $8,029
Property: Parker's $2.84 million white colonial mansion sits on 4.26 acres of green, green grass. Only a few shrubs and a swimming pool punctuate Parker's sprawling golf course of a lawn.

Parker, who did not respond to requests for comment, made quite a splash as a newcomer to the list with the highest residential use in all of greater Portland. WW suspects Parker's sudden spike in water use may be a result of her dating prominent landscape architect Craig Kiest.

2. Robert Pamplin Sr.
Southwest Edgecliff Road, Dunthorpe
Water used: 1,087,592 gallons—enough to fill 115 one-room log cabins (each measuring 12 by 14 feet).
Annual bill: $4,554
Previous ranking: No. 4 in 2004 and 2006.
Change in use: Up 2.6 percent from 2006
Property: Approaching the 3.1-acre Pamplin property, one sees only a clump of towering evergreens and small plaque inscribed, "Windward," the name of the $2.75 million estate. Past the trees looms a plantation-style white clapboard mansion. Behind the home stretches a sopping-wet green lawn and a thriving garden where row after row of snap peas curl onto tall trellises.

Robert, the 95-year-old former chairman of timber giant Georgia Pacific (not to be confused with his son, Portland Tribune owner Robert Pamplin Jr.), was not available for comment "due to Alzheimer's," said his wife, tiny 90-year-old Katherine. She said she won't cut down on water use until the city requires her to do so. "If you want to keep the place up, you'll have to use water," she explained in a soft Southern drawl.

3. Robert Noyes Jr.
Southwest Tryon Hill Road, Dunthorpe
Water used: 1,006,060 gallons—enough to make paper for 35,930 Portland phonebooks. If stacked, the books would tower over a mile high.
Annual bill: $4,135
Previous ranking: No. 8 in 2006, No. 3 in 2004.
Change in use: Up 9.2 percent from 2006
Property: In front of Noyes' seven-bedroom $2.34 million home, a statue of a woman burdened with weighty water jugs stares mournfully from a birdbath. White flower beds and stocky trees decorate the expansive 4.42-acre property.

Noyes formerly owned Norwest Publishing, which printed US West phonebooks. After three months of below-average rainfall this summer, the retiree noticed that his shaded lawn was unpleasantly soggy and asked his gardeners to cut down on watering. But water conservation isn't a priority for Noyes. "I still don't quite understand the reason to get excited for water. There's no shortage," he said.

4. Joyce and Larry Mendelsohn
Southwest Military Road, Dunthorpe
Water used: 961,928 gallons—if water were wine, this would be enough to give every man, woman and child in Portland eight bottles.
Annual bill: $4,429
Previous ranking: No. 6 in 2004, No. 11 in 2006.
Change in use: Up 21.2 percent from 2006
Property: A wooded path runs along the Mendelsohns' shaded 4.42-acre property, passing a white, $3.12 million, 5,308-square-foot house, formerly owned by ex-Blazers star Terry Porter. The path then curves behind the home to reveal a garden of pumpkins, tomatoes and eggplants.

Joyce did not respond for comment—her family claimed she was too busy preparing for an upcoming bat mitzvah. Husband Larry (former business partner of Portland Hog No. 1 Andrew Wiederhorn) spent six months confined to their lush property on house arrest after a 2003 tax-fraud conviction.

5. John Inskeep
Southwest Iron Mountain Boulevard, Dunthorpe
Water used: 954,448 gallons—if water were beer, he could buy a pitcher for each Reed student every night for four years.
Annual bill: $4,133
Property: To the right of Inskeep's new 11,744-square-foot brick mansion, two waterfalls cascade into a stone fish pond. To the left of the $7.81 million home, water flows over brick walls into modern, decorative troughs—and then into puddles of dark, soupy dirt on the 1.86-acre property.

Ironically for a Hydro Hog, Inskeep's name is attached to the John Inskeep Environmental Learning Center at Clackamas Community College, named after Inskeep's grandfather, a former state legislator and OSU Clackamas County extension agent. Inskeep is heir to a family fortune from mutual fund giant Columbia Management, which sold in 1997 to Fleet Financial. Today, Inskeep manages multiple investments and runs the IFC Foundation, which grants college scholarships. He has also served on the boards of Providence St. Vincent Medical Foundation and the Clackamas Community College Foundation, and is a past president of the Oregon Zoo Foundation. He told WW, "You seem intent on embarrassing us. You got us! And you're having a lot of fun," before hanging up.

6. Robert P. Briede
Lakeview Boulevard, Lake Oswego
Water used: 936,496 gallons—the amount of fluid sweated if all 3 million members of 24 Hour Fitness spontaneously hit the gym and exercised for one hour.
Annual bill: $1,039
Property: Briede's three-bedroom, $758,405 home is shaded by a thick wall of hedges that prevented WW from properly peeking at the 0.52-acre property through the pointed bars of the tall, locked iron fence.

Briede, former vice president of 24 Hour Fitness, was outed in a previous WW cover story ("Endless Hummer," April 30, 2003) as the owner of a 1999 Hummer. Briede says his water use spiked this year after a storm forced him to drain his 50,000-gallon pool. The storm came after Lake Oswego sidewalk construction "took out my beautiful hedge, leaving my yard completely exposed," Briede said, forcing him to use gallons and gallons of water to plant a thick wall of Canadian hemlock.

7. Karl and Kimberly Olsoni
Leslie Lane, Lake Oswego
Water used: 935,748 gallons—if water were natural gas, the Olsonis could supply 100 Oregon homes for a week.
Annual bill: $1,038
Property: The Olsonis' four-bedroom suburban home, worth $1.45 million, floats atop 0.39 acres of glistening-green wet lawn. A splooshing sound accompanies each step across the property.

Karl, chief financial officer of PPM Energy, did not respond to requests for comment, but WW suspects that his experience working with natural gas, and wind and thermal energy would enlighten him on conservation of resources. Kimberly has a patent for a method of preventing trench overflows, but has apparently neglected to control excess water on her own property.

8. Gilbert Rodriguez and Candace Jennings
Cornell Street, Lake Oswego
Water used: 869,924 gallons—if water were IV fluid, Rodriguez could give every man, woman and child in Lake Oswego an intravenous feed 24 hours a day for an entire month.
Annual bill: $965
Property: Rodriguez and Jennings' $683,653 three-bedroom green ranch house is a mere speck on their massive green lawn. The 2.35-acre grassy expanse is interrupted briefly by a stone pond swimming with fat goldfish and topped by a large, smug stone toad.

Rodriguez, vice president of medical affairs at Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash., and Jennings, owner of Jennings Insurance Agency in Lake Oswego, did not return our requests for comment.

9. Timothy and Marianne Gray
Southwest Stonecreek Drive, Beaverton
Water used: 859,452 gallons—enough to fill 30 500-square-foot studio apartments.
Annual bill: $3,002
Property: The subdivision in which the Grays' $1.57 million McMansion resides was recently plopped down in the middle of the yellow farmland outside of Beaverton. The Grays' 1.45 acres of short, soft grass and carefully placed ferns are just part of a larger green oasis, a suburban respite from agriculture.

Timothy, a real-estate investor who owns Apartments Northwest LLC, told WW he had a leak. We let leakers off the Hydro Hogs list if they can prove it, but he refused the offer, saying, "I'm not documenting anything with you guys. I don't owe an explanation to you or anybody else." The next day, he filed a leak report with his water district. The leak has yet to be confirmed.

10. Mario and Antonette Bisio
Northshore Road, Lake Oswego
Water used: 856,460 gallons—enough to fill one pair of Italian designer shoes for every man in Oregon.
Annual bill: $950
Property: Next to the front door of the Bisios' stone-and-stucco lake house, a sign with a picture of a quaint log cabin reads: "Welcome to the Lake." But the Bisios' $2.35 million home overlooking green-tinted Lake Oswego is no log cabin. In back of the five-bedroom house, a lush garden overflows onto a stone patio. Below, an in-ground swimming pool sits just inches from the edge of the lake, its chlorinated water nearly kissing the algae-ridden lake water.

Mario, owner of the clothing retailer Mario's, is famous for making Italian high fashion appealing in the crunchy Pacific Northwest. The Bisios did not respond to requests for comment.

11. Sandy Russo
Southwest Stonecreek Drive, Beaverton
Water used: 835,516 gallons—enough to fill 32 moving trucks.
Annual bill: $2,918
Property: Melancholy swan statues stand dripping in front of Russo's $1.43 million, brick-and-stucco Tudor home. It seems they're caught again in the familiar shower of the overzealous sprinkler system that terrorizes the 1.42-acre property. Russo's lawn embodies both absolute chaos and perfect order—streams of sprinkler spray pool into mud puddles in a landscape of overplanned shrubbery.

Russo, a former real-estate agent, sent WW an email saying, "There is no one more upset than I am about even my excessive water consumption." She went on to explain that "a geyser erupted in the wooded area" as a result of a leak, followed by a "sprinkler system fiasco." Russo said she fired her landscaping company, but she neglected to report any of these mishaps to her water district.

12. Daniel and Sandra Wilkens
Goodall Road, Lake Oswego
Water used: 834,768 gallons—enough to do a dishwasher load every day for 63 years.
Annual bill: $926
Previous ranking: No. 14 in 2006
Change in use: Up 13.5 percent from 2006
Property: Behind the Wilkens' $1.65 million four-bedroom home, a sinister owl statue perches atop the waterfall that flows into a large sunken pool. Nearby, two gardeners turn on several sprinklers to soak the lawn on the 0.43-acre property.

Daniel, a self-employed investor, and Sandra did not respond to requests for comment.

13. Ken and Katherine Murphy
Southwest Military Road, Dunthorpe
Water used: 830,280 gallons—enough for a family of four to flush a toilet 20 times a day for 19 years.
Annual bill: $3,863
Property: Peering past the Murphy's "No Trespassing" and "Positively No Trespassing" signs, WW counted eight hoses sprawled across the 2.23-acre property, waiting to soak a pristine landscape of tiny, diverse shrubs. Behind the Murphy's wooded wonderland sits a newly built $2.76 million, forest-green, cabin-style home of 7,458 rustic square feet.

Ken and Katherine, self-described private investors, just finished removing all the ivy and non-native species and planting nearly 2,000 native plants on their wooded property. Ken said, "We want to garden with native species so we don't have to water as much in the long run, but we needed to saturate the native plants for a while so they dig in."

14. Joseph and Roxanne Stapleton
Fielding Road, Lake Oswego
Water used: 812,328 gallons—enough to fill over 21 million anesthesia masks, and give two soggy masks to every resident of Oregon and Washington.
Annual bill: $901
Property: Rainbows arced through the spray of nine crisscrossing sprinklers on the Stapletons' 1.7-acre property, despite the stream that runs through the back. One delinquent sprinkler sent a steady stream of water down the concrete driveway, away from the four-bedroom, $1.99 million, shingle-style Dutch colonial by architect Robert A.M. Stern.

Joseph, an OHSU grad and anesthesiologist with the Oregon Anesthesiology Group in Portland, and Roxanne, a registered nurse and former director of the Chris Dudley Basketball Camp for diabetics, didn't respond to requests for comment. When WW visited, a tall, blond woman snapped, "Please get off my property!"

15. Michael and Darcy Moore
Crestline Court, Lake Oswego
Water used: 808,588 gallons—enough to fill 637 minivans.
Annual bill: $1,050
Property: The Moores' six-bedroom, $2.11 million, cedar-and-stone home sits on nearly two acres of lawn surrounded by small green shrubbery.

Michael—who donated $200 to John Kerry's enviro-friendly 2004 presidential campaign, says he works in "financial services" and that wife Darcy is "a full-time mom"—may be a Hog with a heart. He attributes their water use to the renovation of an abandoned, weed-ridden horse farm: "We bought the land and landscaped it. It's almost like a community park now." He hopes to reduce his consumption next year, for the environment and his pocketbook. This isn't the first time water has caused trouble for the Moores: In 2003, they sued their home's builder, Jon Mathis Custom Homes, for $898,000 for water damage.

DOUSED IN DATA

Getting the names of Hydro Hogs is tougher than it used to be.

In 2005, under pressure from some powerful Hydro Hogs from the past, the Legislature passed a law that took direct aim at Willamette Week's annual water survey. The bill allows water districts to keep secret the names of its water users. A last-minute effort by state Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) retained the water users' addresses as public record.

So now we get the addresses and, using tax records, identify the owners of the homes.

This year, a glitch developed.

The Portland Water Bureau was timely in giving us its list. But noticing some of our past Hall of Famers were missing, we called to find out why. It was only then the bureau realized a programming glitch had omitted many of the top users. The city's Office of Management and Finance worked overtime to provide us a new list at the last moment.

Could we trust it this time? John Popenuk, a customer service supervisor at the Water Bureau, assured us we could. "I'm very confident that it is an accurate report," Popenuk says.

 
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