The average American home can waste anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 gallons of water every year due to leaking faucets and fixtures — but for the biggest celebrities in Hollywood, who live in mega-mansions the size of an entire neighborhood of houses, who knows how much water goes to waste?
It’s impossible to know the answer. Even as massive drought continues to plague California, making water a luxury for millions, state law allows utilities providers to withhold water usage information regarding specific customers from both the press and the public.
For example, we can’t know exactly how many gallons of water Jennifer Lopez uses in her house. But after a recent series of aerial photos showed a number of Hollywood lawns that are still green as ever, including Lopez’s, it’s evident that most celebrities are staying insulated from the concerns of the drought.
There wasn’t always such a lack of transparency surrounding the amount of water that the wealthy and famous consume. In 1991, during California’s last major drought, baseball star Mark McGwire came under fire when an Oakland Tribune report revealed that McGwire used a stunning 3,752 gallons a day during the summer months. The article also found that the top 100 biggest water users in the East Bay used 15 times more water than the average home in the area.
In 1997, however, the state passed legislation that weakened the California Public Records Act, effectively blocking public access to individual and corporate water use information, according to a May 18 Mother Jones article.
As Californians continue to dramatically alter their lifestyles to follow ever-more-stringent water restrictions, they have no way of knowing if the rich and famous have to follow these same conservation measures.
To pressure Hollywood stars to change their household water usage, utilities companies themselves have begun to ask celebrities to comply with local water restrictions. Recently, the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District sent a letter to Kim Kardashian, asking her to cut the water usage at her Calabasas mansion in half.
According to the UK Telegraph, the letter contained suggestions to help homeowners maintain their lawns during the drought such as installing artificial turf or planting succulents and other desert plants.
Kardashian responded in earnest, saying she has no problem with letting her lawn go brown in order to conserve water.
“Kim takes this drought seriously. She has no problem letting her grass go brown,” a representative for Kardashian, who shares her $20 million mansion with husband Kanye West and daughter North West, said.
Barbra Streisand is another celebrity who recently cut her water usage after her lawn appeared in the aforementioned aerial photos. One of Streisand’s representatives said she’s cut her water use by more than 50% and plans to take even more conservation measures in the future.
But these are just two examples of celebrities doing the right thing out of the hundreds of wealthy Californians doing nothing to alter their lifestyles. With California entering its fourth straight year of drought and more than 94% of the state classified as being in severe drought, it’s going to take a lot more than two people’s efforts to solve the water crisis. Surviving the drought in California is going to require everyone to pitch in — no matter how wealthy or famous they may be.