August 24th, 2009
August Water Usage

People just don’t realize how conservative I am.

Update: August 2009
Worst summer ever. However, this year’s August water bill is somewhere in the middle of my highest and my lowest years, mostly because so many plants died last summer that I don’t have as much to water.

I gave up on the garden somewhere in early July when we hit 30 triple digit days. We are now at day 64 and expected to break the all time record of 69 days set in 1925. Stage 2 water restrictions go into effect today, August 24th. I have already been following those stricter restrictions, so I do not expect to be able to conserve water much more than I’m doing now.

Unlike 2005, my lawn no longer looks like dried hay. It looks like dirt.

1. location: Austin Texas
2. August consumption: 6500 gallons (07/17/2009 – 08/17/2009)
3. cost: $19.87 (water only; not wastewater charge)

Update: August 2005
Wow! This August my water consumption was low. I was in England the first two weeks of August, so used no water at all. Luckily, it was cool and rainy. These last two weeks of August should make next month’s bill skyrocket. My lawn looks like dried hay.
1. location: Austin Texas
2. August consumption: 3500 gallons (07/19/2005 – 08/18/2005)
3. cost: $9.16

In today’s bill the City of Austin included a brochure reminding us to check for leaks, especially if our consumption is above 25,000 gallons. 25,000 gallons! Hey! Save some water for the rest of us. What are you guys doing? Bathing in the stuff?

Update: September 2005
September was hotter than August and I used twice as much water. We reached our high for the year of 108 and we had 8 record-breaking highs in a row, all above 100 degrees. The rains never came this far west. I’ve lost two or three rose bushes. Most of the garden looks terrible. This is the first time I’ve ever seen nandina wilt.
September consumption: 8200 gallons (08/18/2005 – 09/19/2005)
cost: $19.92

Update: August 2004
1. location: Austin Texas
2. August consumption: 5600 gallons (07/19/2004 – 08/17/2004)
3. cost: $12.66

Original Post: August 2003
I try to be conservative in my water usage, but I don’t have any idea if I’m using more or less water than the average homeowner, or the average gardener. Sometimes I think I’m a little “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” After ten years of gardening, I have a sizeable investments in plants. It doesn’t make sense to skimp on water if I end up losing that investment.

So how much water do you use? Would you leave a comment and leave this information? I’ll do mine as an example.

1. location: Austin Texas
2. August consumption: 9,600 gallons (07/17/2003 – 08/15/2003)
3. cost: $20.82

I put the cost of just the water, not the wastewater charges which are figured separately on the Austin utility bill.


Zanthan Gardens: Our Summer Dilemma The post I wrote last year generated a lot of discussion.

by M Sinclair Stevens

16 Responses to post “August Water Usage”

  1. From Bill:


    Consumption: 14,900

    Cost: $28.60

  2. From erica:

    Location: Houston

    Consumption: 5,000 (meter read on 8/14)

    Cost: $15.13

    Houston water bills have a box for “Your water conservation target”. I have no idea where this number comes from, but apparently our target is 4,000 gallons.

  3. From Val:

    Location: Austin

    Consumption: over 13,000

    Cost: less than cable

    I think you’re plenty conservative. We have a smaller yard than yours and used over 13,000 gal. this past month. Sometimes we go as high as 15,000. It still costs less than cable.

  4. From mstevens:

    Today’s Austin-American Statesman reports that the utility is proposing rate increases. The average utility customer consumes 8,500 gallons a month. So I am probably a bit below average, since my 9,600 August bill is my high end and the rest of the year I consume much less.

    I’m in favor of the rate increase for several reasons. I want to promote conservation, rain-harvesting, and the planting of native plants. And I believe that we should repair our water system as we go, rather than wait until total breakdowns force even more expensive repairs in the future.

  5. From Aggie '84:

    Location: New Braunfels

    Consumption: I don’t know, we have our own well, no meter.

    Cost: I don’t know, running the well is just part of the elect. bill

    First of all, it’s your money, you earned it, spend it how ever you wish. If that means 14000 gal/mo so be it. But if your plants look healthy and are compatable with our region you shouldn’t need to water an unreasonable amount. Don’t worry about your usage in relation to the “avg user”. What is the average user. What is the avg temp. What is the avg size yard. What are the avg soil conditions. What are the avg plants the avg homeowner with the avg size yard is watering and what was the avg temp for the avg month and how do your conditions compare with the avg. From a scientific standpoint all these avg’s are meaningless. From a practical standpoint go with native plants and you won’t be too far off.

  6. From mstevens:

    Firstly, I don’t believe that just because I have the means to consume our natural resources that it is my right to do so. My point is that the current low rates encourage consumption; at least in my case I think I should use less, but I’m tempted to use more.

    As for “averages” the reason I asked other gardeners to report their water usage was to see where I fit in with a group more like me than the average Austin utility customer. The utility customer is a meter and it can be one person in an apartment, or a family of eight on a small lot in the suburbs, or a gardener on a double-lot downtown.

  7. From bill:

    Our useage looks high compared with others here, but I know we water a lot less than many. But perhaps more than we should. However we do have a large lot and we also have a vegetable garden. The bill above is our highest of the year and a lot of it went toward keeping our tomatoes alive.

  8. From Jacy:

    Location: Austin (Great Hills)

    Consumption: 23,000

    Cost: $200 ($99 Water/$99 Wastewater)!!!!!!

  9. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    Last year was probably the lowest water consumption I’ve had here. This year started off the same way, but from the end of June on, I’ve broke down and watered some, but not as much as the plants would like, but enough to keep them alive. Your posts from this summer could be put into a book entitled “Life During Wartime.”

  10. From emma t:

    This is fascinating- but is that water consumption for your whole house, or just the garden?? I’m imagining the most water gets used flushing the toilet, is that right? Probably puts gardening watering right into the shade…

    This is my entire household water consumption for the month: drinking, garden, toilets, dishes, and laundry. — mss

  11. From Jenny Austin:

    You are to be congratulated for your water conservation. I consider myself conservative but it isn’t having much effect on our bill. We have low water washing machine, dishwasher an on demand water heater and drip irrigation. For months I have saved the cold water that runs through the shower before it gets hot. This week I have started to get my shower water from the water in the hose which heats up during the day. A bucket full of hot water is the result which I then take into the shower and use with a ladle! This is what we were doing all summer when away in our trailer. However the garden is getting the lion’s share. Much has died and everything would be dead if I wasn’t watering. Yesterday our MUD put us on water restrictions too so there will be some changes.

  12. From Katina Austin:

    I laughed out loud at your “my grass doesn’t look like dried hay anymore. It looks like dirt” comment.

    3,000 gallons for the month of July. for a grand total of $10.80 for water service…the total bill (WW, drainage utility, etc) was for $39.54. The bill for August should be coming some time after the 10th.

    I’m predicting that August will be higher because I decided I’d try to save the grass sometime around the end of July. Yeah, that didn’t go so well. So instead I decided to deep water the trees and plants that I want to stick around. That’s working much better.

  13. From Linda Lehmusvirta Austin Texas:

    Well, in 2005 & 2007, I had a water bill for 6500 gallons. Before then, and especially this summer, it’s way more than that. But I can’t bear to start over with all dirt (been there, done that). And in normal years, our monthly is below 4000 except in summer. Right now, I just hope that we won’t have another year like this in our life time; if it keeps up, it will be time to consider asphalt. . .painted nicely, of course.

  14. From ryan:

    We use about 70 gallons per person per day, so around 4,000-4,500 for the two of us for a summer month. Out here in California, the water companies want people using 100-150 gallons per person per day, and 450-500 gallons per household/family or about 15,000 gallons per month.
    One thing I keep in mind is that I’m growing some of my own food and propagating some of my own plants. If I don’t use water to grow them, then some commercial grower will use the water instead and probably be less efficient about it. It won’t show up on my water bill, but the water will still be used. So not all water usage is the same. 6500 gallons sounds pretty good for someone in Texas with a veggie garden.

  15. From Daniel Mount:

    I fortunately live in the State Of Washington in a flood plain. Sometimes we have way too much water. This summer has been dry for us with record temps. We hit 110 one day at our farm east of Seattle. We luckily have our own limitless well and do not suffer. I can’t imagine what you all are going through. But I bet it’s tough gardening. I’ll send some rain wishes your way.

  16. From Justin (Mckinney) Texas:

    2 people no watering of lawns, out of town for 9 days and it says we used 26,000! can that be right? had the system tested too! no leaks!