California is in the midst of a massive drought, but that didn’t stop Beverly Hills residents including Amy Poehler and music mogul David Geffen from using far more water than the average Californian, according to the city.
Between June and August, Geffen was charged more than $30,000 by the Beverly Hills for using 1.6 million gallons of water. Poehler was charged more than $2,200 for 170,000 gallons for the period between May 14 and July 14, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Environmental Protection Agency says the average family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day.
The celebrities were among 86 residents — also including producer Brett Ratner — who received letters from the city of Beverly Hills in November, warning them about their water consumption as they city tries to reduce water usage by 30 percent, the Times reported. The letters accompanied two-month water bills that “ranged from $2,458 to as high as $31,640,” not including penalty surcharges, the paper said.
Others who received high-consumption warning letters included “Will & Grace” co-creator Jason “Max” Mutchnick and real estate developer Geoff Palmer.
Almost all of California is at least “abnormally dry,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Beverly Hills is in part of the state at the highest level on the scale, “exceptional drought.”
In an email to the Times, Geffen said he has sought permission from the city to drill a well on his property, which would allow him to “access the underground river that flows beneath my home instead of water from the city. … That water is not potable and simply flows into the ocean and is wasted.”
Ratner told the Times he was unaware of excessive water use. When an investigation uncovered leaks, he decided to replace his entire water line, a spokeswoman said. Mutchnick also blamed leaks and said they have been repaired, the paper said.
Palmer said in an email to The Times that a leaking pipe was to blame, and appealed. He also complained that the state has misallocated resources, writing, “Wouldn’t you be willing to pay a little more for walnuts and pistachios than see your lawn and landscaping go dead?”
Poehler’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
“I don’t mean to get the world’s smallest violin out, but you’ve got a constituency that has the means to do aggressive water conservation,” Bruce Reznik, executive director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, a waterway protection and restoration organization, told the Times. “It’s the lowest hanging fruit to turn off the sprinklers for a couple days. It’s not brain surgery.”
The Times also reports that the crackdown is working, with the city cutting usage in January by 26 percent. That is the city’s “highest percentage in eight months of reporting and more than double its effort in December.”