From 2004 through 2011, residential customers in Austin annually tapped enough water for lawns and other outdoor irrigation to fill roughly 8,600 Olympic-size swimming pools. To be precise, that adds up to an annual average of 5,879,032,288 gallons, according to a study by the Texas Water Development Board.
Drilling down further, the water board’s study shows Austin households consumed 89 gallons of water per day for outdoor uses from 2004 to 2011. In 2011, the final year of the study, nearly 44 percent of all water consumed by residential customers in Austin went toward lawns and other outdoor purposes, the study says.
The top ZIP code for residential water use in Austin includes Circle C Ranch.
Photo: Wilson Goldrick
Buckets of Data
Those statistics certainly provide an eye-opening overview of outdoor water usage by Austin households. But we were curious about which Austin ZIP codes guzzle the most water for lawn care and other residential purposes. Relying on 2014 consumption data from Austin Water Utility, which serves about 1 million customers in Austin, and 2014 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, we calculated per-capita residential water use for Austin ZIP codes.
We looked only at water use for homes, excluding apartment complexes and other multifamily housing. We removed six ZIP codes that had only a few residential customers:
After weeding out those six ZIP codes, we were left with 39 ZIP codes. Once we finished crunching the water data and population data, the 78739 ZIP code — the wealthiest ZIP code in Austin — came out on top for the highest per-capita residential water use in 2014. The 78739 ZIP code includes Circle C Ranch.
In descending order, here are Austin’s top five ZIP codes for per-capita residential water use in 2014:
- 78739 (including Circle C) — 32,500 gallons of residential water per capita
- 78703 (including Clarksville, Tarrytown, Old West Austin) — 31,300 gallons of residential water per capita
- 78731 (including Northwest Hills) — 30,000 gallons of residential water per capita
- 78701 (including Downtown Austin) — 26,500 gallons of residential water per capita
- 78750 (including Anderson Mill) — 24,700 gallons of residential water per capita
For the sake of comparison, South Austin’s 78704 ZIP code ranked 26th for residential water per capita in 2014. Its total was 13,700 gallons per capita.
In the table below, you can explore the per-capita water use in 2014 for each of 39 Austin ZIP codes, along with the median household income for each ZIP code.
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