L.A.'s Worst Water Wasters Named in New Investigation (Report)

Associated Press
Jerrold Perenchio

Former Univision CEO Jerrold Perenchio, Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber and Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie are among those named in the report.

A new report by the Center for Investigative Reporting seeks to identify the "wet prince of Bel Air," the homeowner who used a staggering 11.8 million gallons of water over the course of a year during Southern California's record-breaking drought.

While authorities have refused to release the name of the homeowner, CIR's Reveal initiative has come up with a list of "the seven most likely culprits," many of whom work in the entertainment industry and all of whom reside in Los Angeles' tony Bel Air neighborhood.

Investigators Michael Corey and Lance Williams used satellite imagery and landscape development algorithms to pinpoint the properties with the most prolific water use, which their article attributes to "fountains, swimming pools, an artificial waterfall, acres of lawn, subtropical landscaping, thousands of flowers, dozens of bathrooms."

"These are amazingly large properties with amazingly lush landscaping," Williams told The Hollywood Reporter.

The worst offenders are former Univision CEO Jerrold Perenchio, who owns a 42-room mansion on Nimes Road that was the set for the Beverly Hillbillies television show; Gary Winick, owner of a 28,000-square-foot mansion that abuts the Bel Air Country Club; and movie producer Peter Guber, who is a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The full report and an analysis of the water-guzzling properties can be viewed here.

To get their results, Corey and Williams used satellite imagery to look at photosynthesis and soil moisture levels, which allowed them to see which properties were likely consuming the most water. A graduate student from the University of Oklahoma suggested the research method to them, Corey told THR.

Two of the property owners named in the CIR report confirmed their water use levels to Corey and Williams.

Bob Daly, former chairman of Warner Bros. and owner of an 11,600-square-foot mansion on Bellagio Road, told CIR, "I have been a responsible person. I can't help the fact that I own a lot of property."

A spokesman for another property said, "We take your report very seriously."

None of the property owners broke any laws, since Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power lets people use as much water as they want — as long as they can pay for it.