Want to Water During a Water Shortage? Plant New Landscaping!

The Southeast is having serious water shortages. Just look at Lake Lanier, the main water source for Atlanta.


So, what do you do when you live in Palm Beach, FL, there is a water shortage, fines for washing your car or watering your lawn except during specified hours, and serious enforcement efforts in place? The Journal’s Robert Frank tells us:

…According to the rules, residents who put in “new landscaping” can water three days a week, instead of the usual one, for 30 days after the planting. Once that period ends, homeowners can plant yet again — and resume the thrice-a-week watering. That has led some Palm Beachers to put in new trees, shrubs and turf — often at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per residence — just so they can run their irrigation systems more frequently.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said he returned to Palm Beach after the summer and found that he had the only brown lawn on the block. “When I asked everyone how they were watering, they all said ‘new plantings,’ ” he said. “So that’s the loophole. We’re all just ripping out the old lawn and shrubs and putting in new ones.”

Now, if that doesn’t irritate you, check this out–under Florida’s rules in Palm Beach, if you use a lot of water, you just pay a surcharge. So, guess what the fabulously rich do? Use all the water they want and pay a surchage:

Consider Nelson Peltz. The investor and food magnate’s oceanfront estate, called Montsorrel, is among the island’s biggest water consumers. His 13.8-acre spread, which combines two properties, used not quite 21 million gallons of water over the past 12 months — or about 57,000 gallons a day on average — at a cost of more than $50,000, according to records obtained from the local water utility. That compares with 54,000 gallons a year for an average single-family residence in Palm Beach, says Ken Rearden, assistant city administrator of West Palm Beach. (West Palm Beach supplies Palm Beach’s water.)

Yes, an average home uses $54,00 gallons a year. Compare that to some Palm Beach mansion owners:


Some Palm Beach estates use huge amounts of water despite the city’s restrictions. Chart shows gallons consumed in the 12 months ended Oct. 1, 2007.
Nelson Peltz
13.8 acres 20,863,216
Dwight Schar
Executive chairman, home-builder NVR
6 acres 12,155,000
William L. Koch
President, mining concern Oxbow
7 acres 4,519,416
James H. Clark
Netscape co-founder
5 acres 3,452,020
Sydell Miller
Co-founder, Matrix hair-care products
4 acres 1,032,240
*second property; **adjoining property he owns