Life in America’s most fabled, fancy pants summer getaway, the Hamptons, isn’t all equestrian events with the Countess LuAnn and brunch on the beach with Ina Garten and two of her most fabulous florist friends. It can be exhausting keeping up appearances, home-wise, on the glitzy far east end of Long Island. You know ... ensuring that the sparkling swimming pools are filled to the brim, the hot-tubs-with-a-view are bubbling, the John Robshaw sheets in the guest cottage are clean, and, most importantly, the golf course-sized lawns are looking immaculately coiffed. And when I say exhausting, I mean exhausting on local public water supplies and not on the homeowners themselves.
Using data obtained by the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) with a FOIA request, the Southhampton Press recently released a list of the top 20 residential water-consumers in both Southampton and East Hampton Towns, and it's pretty astonishing — in a not-very-good way.
According to the findings, the title of “Most Water-Guzzling Property in the Hamptons” belongs to the Bridgehampton estate of J.Crew honcho Millard "Mickey" Drexler. In 2010, Drexler’s home consumed a whopping 18.4 million gallons of water, enough agua to fill nearly 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The top four water-guzzling residential properties in both East Hampton and Southampton Towns — Drexler’s $100 million home along with the seasonal residences of fellow rich dudes Andrew Zarro, Dwight Anderson, and the late Bruce Wasserstein — consumed a combined total of 54.9 million gallons of water which is more than half the amount of water contained in perhaps the most glamorous oversized pond in the country: Southampton Village's Lake Agawam. Annually, the average SCWA customer (read: residents without swimming pools and acres-large manicured lawns) uses about 160,000 gallons of water.
Tim Motz, director of communications for the SCWA, notes that most, if not all, of the 20 top water-hogging Hamptons properties have water-intensive geothermal heating and cooling systems in addition to the extensive lawns and gardens and backyard swimming holes.
The Press even reached out to a few of the homeowners included in the list. Reactions were varied.
Gloria Prager, the owner of the Montauk home that ranked sixth in public water consumption in East Hampton Town with 846,500 gallons in 2010, found the data “outrageous” and claimed that a high water bill received last summer nearly gave her a heart attack. Prager, who uses an underground watering system to irrigate her lawn and has a hot tub along with a particularly deep swimming pool (so that her children learn to dive properly) suspects that someone tapping into her water line might be the reason for the astronomical water use. Prager, unlike most folks on the list, resides in her home year-round.
Clive Cardoza, property manager of the 10th biggest water-guzzler in Southampton Town, one of Robert Sillerman’s three Meadow Lane estates, was surprised, saying that “we are very much into water conservation” and that the property is landscaped with native plants like dune grasses and feature sprinklers that shut off in the rain.
John Picket goes as far to blame the water company and his own wife, who takes two showers a day, for the super-high water usage that occurred at his Southampton Village residence in 2010. The Florida-based couple live at the home on Great Plains Road for only four months of the year.
Read the entire list here and check out Curbed Hamptons’ map of the top 10 offenders overall. And unless you're familiar with hedge funders and hoteliers, there’s no real big bold face names on the list save for church organ enthusiast and Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan, whose home on South Davis Avenue in Montauk consumed 717,000 gallons of water in 2010. When it comes to H2O, it looks like Gahan truly just can’t get enough.