Bill Gates' Big Water Bill

S E A T T L E

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ mansion went

through a whopping 4.7 million gallons of water last year—enough

to cover his five-acre estate with a flood nearly 3 feet deep and

make him the area’s top residential water user.

SEATTLE (AP)—Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ mansion went through a whopping 4.7 million gallons of water last year—enough to cover his five-acre estate with a flood nearly 3 feet deep and make him the area’s top residential water user.

Gates’ home—which includes a 60-foot pool, sauna and indoor-outdoor spa—racked up a $24,828 water bill for 2000, The Seattle Times reported.

The Seattle Public Utilities figures, released under a public-records request by The Times, show the median household uses about 80,000 gallons of water per year.

Groundskeepers at Gates’ $109 million Medina home say they suspect most of the water went to irrigation and the home’s heating and cooling system, family spokesman Trevor Neilson said Friday.

“When they were made aware of the problem, Bill and Melinda were very surprised and very concerned,� he said. “Immediately they asked the staff to look into the cause of the high level of water use.�

Neilson said Gates often uses his home for conferences and other large gatherings.

Gov. Gary Locke declared a drought emergency last month. Seattle Public Utilities has asked its residents to reduce water use by 10 percent.

The Gateses, who would save enough water to supply nearly six homes if they cut back that much, are trying to conserve.

“They want their staff to find some sort of long-term changes that can be made to limit the amount of water the property is using,� Neilson said.

The top water user in Seattle proper is aeronautical engineer James Raisbeck, whose 100-year-old home last year went through 1.89 million gallons of water, which is 23 times more than the median household.

He attributes the high amount to a leaky pool and watering his almost 5 acres of lawns and gardens.

“But our lawn, in 2001, is no longer going to be the greenest one in Seattle,� Raisbeck said. “In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised in this was the year brown was in.�

Other top users in Seattle and Bellevue include Keith McCaw, one of McCaw Cellular founder Craig McCaw’s billionaire brothers, with 1.7 million gallons; construction magnate Mario A. Segale, who used 1.1 million gallons; and Skyway Luggage owner Henry Kotkins Jr., with just under 1 million gallons.