The owner of a 1,200-square-foot San Leandro house with one bathroom and a front yard landscaped with rocks managed to use an average of more than 13,000 gallons of water a day over the summer -- earning the distinction of the No. 1 water user in the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
That's more than former Chevron executive George Kirkland, who has a 4-acre estate in Danville; more than Billy Beane, executive vice president of baseball operations for the Oakland A's; and more than former Golden State Warrior Adonal Foyle. Like his water bill, Chris Lang's penalty for overuse was also No. 1: Nearly $2,000.
"Whaaaaat?'' Lang said Thursday evening when told of his top ranking.
He says he had a leak.
Lang said he was stunned to learn his house, with four residents and no lawn, was consuming more than anyone else in the massive district that covers much of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
"I really didn't have any idea," he said. "This doesn't make sense."
Lang said he discovered a leak in his front yard about a month ago when he woke up to find wet rocks and water pooling. "I dug it up and fixed it," he said.
But an EBMUD meter reader checked Lang's meter Thursday and confirmed that it was still spinning at an exceptionally high rate, said district spokeswoman Andrea Pook.
"It's unfortunate," Pook said. "But this is a lesson about the importance of checking for leaks. One in four households in East Bay MUD have leaks."
Lang acknowledged he doesn't always check his bills.
The district, which serves 1.4 million people, on Thursday released the third list in as many weeks of those who violated the limit and paid penalties. With more than 3,000 people named, the agency has identified the vast majority of its violators.
EBMUD released the information in response to public records requests from this newspaper and other media outlets. Officials say they are obligated to release information about violations of its ordinance, with penalties for overuse. Many other water agencies throughout the Bay Area say they don't have to release information about big users because they have no limit to violate. Some agencies, such as the San Jose Water Co., are private and also have not released information about their customers' water use.
The top 10 on EBMUD's list guzzled between 6,000 and 13,600 gallons every day -- or more than about 90,000 gallons collectively, according to agency records. The second-biggest user overall after Lang was Kirkland, the former Chevron vice chairman, who used more than 12,000 gallons per day at his Danville home. Like Lang, he blamed the heavy usage on a leak -- in this case affecting a line to his vineyard.
Roughly 1 percent of households served by EBMUD went over the limit this summer. One in four reported they had some leaks, the agency said.
All told, the district assessed nearly $250,000 in penalties in the last billing cycle.
The top 10 users collectively paid about $12,000 in fines, and their estimated combined water bills totaled more than $54,000.
As suspected, the majority of excess-water users live on large lots in warmer climates east of the Oakland-Berkeley hills.
With the exception of Lang, the top 10 water users are in Diablo, Alamo, Danville and Lafayette.
Among the notables among the list of violators identified Thursday are former San Francisco Giants pitching star Jeremy Affeldt, developer Edwin DeSilva, the San Ramon home of Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones, former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and KTVU news anchor Julie Haener.
In an email Thursday, Affeldt said he rented the Alamo home in question and had no control over the amount of water used for irrigating the landscaping and vineyard. He said he was also told the home used well water.
"I explained (to the owner) the water bill and my concern since it was a drought and had no idea how to run his sprinkler system," Affeldt said. "He came out and I guess fixed that, saying it was supposed to be on the well and wasn't, and we weren't sure how it got switched."
The second-biggest user on the latest list was DeSilva, the chairman and CEO of DeSilva Gates Construction, a firm that has worked in general contracting and real estate projects for decades in the Bay Area. DeSilva's Orinda home used 5,236 gallons a day, and he was fined $682, according to EBMUD.
Affeldt's Alamo home made the list, using 1,558 gallons a day. His former teammate and close friend, Matt Cain, made the list last month for using too much water at his Alamo home.
Haener's Diablo home used more than 1,500 gallons a day.
Perhaps the most unusual customer on the latest excess user list was Michael Littman, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the death of his Alamo neighbor. Littman bumped into his neighbor, with whom he was feuding over a shared driveway, causing her to hit her head on the driveway.
Littman reported to prison in January to serve a four-year, eight-month prison sentence.
EBMUD indicates a bill in his name shows the same Alamo house where the death occurred racked up 1,084 gallons a day.