COVER STORY

WATER HOGS: The Revival

It's BAAAAAAACK! FW's controversial look at at Northeast Florida's biggest (mis)users of our state's precious natural resource

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Among Folio Weekly covers, “Water Hogs” is kinda like the Camaro of muscle cars or the KISS of farewell tours; it might take a few years, but it’s bound to come back sooner or later.

“Water Hogs: The Revival” is different from its most recent iteration in a few ways: First, we’re publicly shaming far fewer swine—this year; second, we don’t have the staff or patience (or interest in getting shot) to stake out all the offenders; and third, we’re giving repeat offenders a one-time pass on being called out for their continuous suckage.

It will interest you to know that, in spite of the St. Johns Water Management District’s Water Shortage Warning Order that went into effect in March 2017 and was rescinded in September, these 12, well, 11 (more on that later) porkers consumed a cumulative 18,893,000 gallons from Nov. 1, 2016 through Oct. 31, 2017. That’s enough to fill 28.6 Olympic-sized swimming pools. That’s 151,144,000 pounds of water; if that weight were kilometers, that’s just about the distance from Earth to the sun. No, we are not making this up.

As far as we can ascertain, this is the first time in “Water Hogs” history that two of piggies—including the Top Hog—are actually owned by the same real estate company. Yep, last time we did this, there was a rash of bank-owned foreclosures on our list; since then, it appears the real estate market has turned around bigly. Also, bigly is now apparently a word. We’re surprised on both counts.

So, without further ado, turn the page, read ’em and weep … for our planet.
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#1 AV HOMES INC. 8483 Mabel Dr.
Market value: $350,745
Property size: 1/3 acre (14,275 square feet)
House square footage: 2,335
3 bedrooms/2.5 bathrooms
Suckiest month: June 2017 – 246,000 gallons
June 2017 precipitation*: 11.88 inches (322,589 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 2,231,000

If water were beer, this would be enough to fill enough half-gallon growlers to give every resident of Jacksonville—man, woman and child—five. 

In a Water Hogs first, not only does residential developer AV Homes own the biggest pig of the bunch, it owns TWO (see No. 5). Between the two, AV Homes has sucked away 3,808,000 gallons of our water. It’s important to note, however, that though these are technically classified as residential and associated with a single address by JEA, Robert “Bob” Kanjian, the AV Homes broker who manages the area, told us that the sprinkler systems of these two model homes are hooked up to ALL the homes in each development. “Several homes [are] adjacent to each other, so it’s probably set up so the sprinkler system covers all of those,” he said, adding via email, “These will be homeowner association accounts in the future.” According to Kanjian, the Mabel Drive water bill in its “Old Still” development is reportedly associated with 124 homes; the Stone Creek Development (in Saint Johns) water bill accounts for landscaping around 44 homes. That’s a shade under 18 thousand gallons per home for Old Still, roughly 35 thousand gallons per home in Stone Creek—just for the grass and flowers. To put this in perspective, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average person uses between 29,000 and 36,500 gallons of water in one year. Oink. Oink.

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#2 JOHN & SUZANNE KIRKPATRICK • 7956 Copperfield Cir. S.
Market Value: $123,132
Property size: 1/6 acre (6,869 square feet)
House square footage: 1,873
3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
Suckiest month: March 2017 – 221,000 gallons
March 2017 precipitation*: 0.98 inches (26,601 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 2,050,000

If gallons were airplane puke bags, this would be enough to stock 2,361 Airbus a380s.

This modestly sized home off Argyle Forest Boulevard isn’t what one might expect for a water hog; yet here it is, slurping down more than 2 million gallons and sloshing in at No. 2. Originally purchased by John Kirkpatrick in 1991, upon his death, Duval County Property Appraiser records began listing Suzanne Kirkpatrick as the owner of a life estate for the property in 2016. She did not respond to our letter; other attempts to obtain contact information for her were unsuccessful. Including an unheated addition, this unassuming, single-story house takes up 2,291 square feet of the 6,689 square feet of this property; leaving a maximum of 4,398 square feet of yard. Assuming that, like most, half of their water is dumped on the lawn—which seems unlikely, given its relatively small size and three bedrooms—that’s 233 gallons per square foot of yard, or more than a half-gallon a day, rain, shine or hurricane.
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#3 WILLIAM THOMAS  6324 Morse Ave.
Market value: $123,397
Property size: 1/2 acre (22,140 square feet)
House square footage: 1,534
2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
Suckiest month: July 2017 – 285,000 gallons
July 2017 precipitation*: 10.91 inches (296,250 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,791,000

This would be enough to flush a WaterSense toilet every hour for 159 years.

Drive just four-and-a-half miles northeast from Water Hog Nombre Deuce and you’ll find the third piggy on our list. This roughly 1,500-square-foot home can at least point to its much larger property as a defense for consuming 1,791,000 gallons in a single year. Based on its 2,130-square-foot floor plan (including garage), that’s a relatively paltry 44 gallons per square foot of yard … but it bears mention that Florida is located in the subtropics (meaning it rains a lot), and much of this property comprises tall, mature trees, which don’t need watering. William Thomas, who purchased the property in 2008 with his wife Elena Thomas, for $165,900, did not respond to our letter and our call to a Dr. William Thomas, who practices family medicine and is affiliated with St. Vincent’s, was not returned.

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#4 JAMES T. MEYER 683 Queen’s Harbour Blvd.
Market value: $2,111,455
Property size: 1-1/2 acres (67,162 square feet)
House square footage: 7,781
4 bedrooms/5.5 bathrooms
Suckiest month: June 2017 – 244,000 gallons
June 2017 precipitation*: 11.88 inches (322,589 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,741,000

This is enough water for four average Americans to take a shower every day for 69 years.

On the bright side, our fourth hog’s property is more than 10 times larger than the smallest property on our list. On the other hand, they still managed to draw down 1.7 million of our gallons. Owned by James T. Meyer, who did not respond to inquiries, the Queen’s Harbour property is pretty much what we expect of those who consume disproportionate amounts of anything: enormous, expensive and isolated behind a guard gate. It’s so swank that Google street team hasn’t been by with their nosy cameras; the best glimpse we could get was via satellite, which shows a waterfront abode complete with a large circular driveway, pristine yard, dock and, of course, what looks to be a huge backyard pool.

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#5 AV HOMES INC. 94 Stone Creek Cir.
Market value: $249,603
Property size: 1/3 acre
House square footage: 3,366
4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
Suckiest month: June 2017 – 218,000 gallons
June 2017 precipitation*: 11.88 inches (322,589 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,577,000

If gallons were miles, this would be enough for 82 of Forrest Gump’s 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours-long runs from the 1994 movie.

See our top Water Hog above for explanation.

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#6 DWIGHT L. CARLSON 1326 Charter Ct. E.
Market value: $965,245
Property size: 2/5 acre (17,761 square feet)
House square footage: 4,977
5 bedrooms/6.5 bathrooms
Suckiest month: August 2017 – 247,000 gallons
August 2017 precipitation*: 9.09 inches (246,829 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,473,000

If gallons were Twitter characters, this would be enough for President Trump to send one maximum-character Tweet every day for nearly 14 and 1/2 years … god help us.

Two spots down and two miles from the fourth little piggy, Dwight Carlson’s $1 million home checks some of the same boxes: waterfront, dock, pool, posh addy. But Carlson has what few Water Hogs can claim: a plausible explanation for his consumption, backed up by JEA records. Upon receiving our letter, he called and emailed to tell us that, after a neighbor who happens to be a JEA employee noticed his above-average consumption, a leak was discovered and fixed in September and he received a credit. Thereafter, Carlson began consuming so little water, his home is actually kind of a model for conservation. Carlson acknowledged that he probably should have noticed the leak before, but with the bill on autopay, that couple of hundred buckaroos escaped his notice. He was actually very nice about the whole thing and we feel confident that next year, Carlson will not be on this list.

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#7 MARK O. HASSELL 2828 Lake Shore Blvd.
Market value: $304,522
Property size: just under 1 acre (41,521 square feet)
House square footage: 2,270
3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
Suckiest month: October 2017 – 891,000 gallons
October 2017 precipitation*: 4.01 inches (108,887 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,421,000

If gallons were yards completed by a quarterback, this would be enough for 385 of Blake Bortles’ 2017 seasons.

What is it with excessive consumption on waterfront properties? This large parcel on the Cedar River, where the Westside and Riverside meet, looks like the kind of home that bona fide folks live in. Its annual consumption also looks like the kind of whoopsy caused by a leak that was quickly discovered and quickly fixed—unless they spent the month of October filling all their neighbors’ pools. With the vast majority of their consumption, some 891,000 gallons, in a single month, though the remaining 530,000 gallons is well above average, we’re willing to give the seventh swine the benefit of the doubt. Even if Mark Hassell did ignore our letter and calls to a contractor of the same name and address went unreturned.

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#8 CHARLES & STACEY HOGAN 314 Ponte Vedra Blvd.
Market value: $3,203,838
Property size: 1/2 acre
House square footage: 7,369
Built in 2015
6 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms
Suckiest month: January 2017 – 146,000 gallons
January 2017 precipitation*: 3.89 inches (105,629 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,388,000

If gallons were miles, this would be enough for 82 of Forrest Gump’s 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours-long runs from the 1994 movie.

Well, how do you do, Water Hog No. 8? By the looks of that fancy 2014 HGTV Magazine spread about their “bright, airy Florida home,” the Hogans are doing pretty dern well indeed. They’re also the proud (we assume) owners of the priciest home on our list, purchased in 2012 according to that article, with an unsurprising Ponte Vedra address and a $3.2 million market value. The Hogans, who ignored our inquiries, are keeping up with the Joneses and siphoning finite resources out of our aquifer in this six-bedroom Cape Cod-style McMansion a few doors down from Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and across the street from Mother Ocean who, we’re guessing, does not approve.

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#9 ERNEST E. HALE III 5050 Yacht Club Rd.
Market value: $1,231,126
Property size: 3/4 acre (34,269 square feet)
House square footage: 4,712
4 bedrooms/5 bathrooms
Suckiest month: July 2017 - 242,000 gallons
July 2017 precipitation*: 10.91 inches (296,250 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,353,000

If gallons of water were miles of river, this river would be as long as 4,364 St. Johns Rivers.

According to Zillow, which gushes about its Pirates Cove address, docks, “lush landscaping” (we bet), a backyard that “is a paradise with a large pool,” this water-sucking property in Ortega could be yours for the low, low price of $1.5 million. Like the sties of some of the other swine, the monstrous home is waterfront so, as an added bonus, much of that nitrogen-rich fertilizer that keeps the grass a killer shade of green would flow directly into Yacht Basin and a few yards around the corner into the St. Johns River. Or you could just turn the sprinklers off. One of those. In other news, our dear friend Google turned up some interesting results for one Ernest Hale; in 2016, a city Auditor’s Report found that Loblolly Mitigation Bank, of which Hale is reportedly the managing partner, may have unjustly enriched itself to the tune of $3.1 million on—get this—the city’s wetland mitigation program. No, we are not joking. At the time, the auditor who oversaw the report told The Florida Times-Union, “I will not say a crime has been committed. I won’t say one hasn’t been committed.” Following print publication, Hale reached out to FW via a representative, who said that he hasn't lived in the home since 2013, and that a burst pipe caused the excessive consumption. The representative also noted that he is negotiating with the city and contests that any funds were inappropriately retained by Loblolly.

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#10 TIE! PAMELA B. JACKSON 1064 Chatford Rd.
Property size: 1/6 acre (6,706 square feet)
House square footage: 1,300
2 bedroom/1 bathroom
Suckiest month: April 2017 - 151,000 gallons
April 2017 precipitation*: 0.74 inches (20,093 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,309,000

If these were gallons of gas, this would be enough gas to drive a 2018 Toyota Prius from EverBank Field to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota over 47,000 times.

There are many things we expect of our hogs. This property, tied for 10th, has none of them, except outsized consumption. Located in that which-neighborhood-is-it? area between St. Nicholas and the Southbank (we picked St. Nicholas, but without full confidence), it’s one of the older homes in J-ville, built in 1938 according to property appraiser records. It’s also smaller, and the only house on our list with just one bathroom. Purchased by Pamela Jackson—who ignored our attempts to contact her—in 1989 for $54,000, its expected sale price on Zillow is a respectable $175,000-and-change. However, like the song, Miss Jackson’s water consumption, whatever its cause may be, is nasty.

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#10 TIE! JAMES M. MUSSALLEM 5830 Clifton Ave.
Market value: $1,317,087
Property size: just under 1 acre (39,592 square feet)
House square footage: 14,126
4 bedrooms/6 bathrooms
Built in 2007
Suckiest month: March 2017 – 149,000 gallons
March 2017 precipitation*: 0.98 inches (26,601 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,309,000

If gallons were ounces of coffee, this would be enough to give every single resident of Nassau County two cups of coffee … with 3,384 cups left over.

Also ringing in at No. 10 is James M. Mussallem. As impressed as we are with the fact that two hogs managed to tie, we’re much less keen on the combined 2.6 million that they drained from our water supply. When our letter went unanswered, we called Mussallem Galleries on Philips Highway and were told that James Mussallem was out of town; we left a detailed message for him, including the nature of our inquiry, our intent to publish this information, contact info and press deadline. Mussallem did not respond. This home on the Arlington River, in the posh part of Arlington, is probably what one would call a villa, with the gate, pool, dock and price tag to match.

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#12 IGOR V. MAKAROV 8250 Chelsea Lake Pl.
Market value: $516,261
Property size: 3/4 acre (31,294 square feet)
House square footage: 3,969
4 bedrooms/3.5 bathrooms
Suckiest month: August 2017 – 132,000 gallons
August 2017 precipitation*: 9.09 inches (246,829 gallons/acre)
Gallons used: 1,250,000

If gallons were calories, this would be enough to feed an average adult male for 500 days, and an average adult female for 625 days.

If we said we felt good about Igor Makarov making the final spot on our list of Water Hogs, we’d be lying. But, then again, the only people who celebrate when their search for information whips up a Russian billionaire either work for the FBI or have the last name of Trump. Though his home is well below the priciest on our list, we feel quite confident that Makarov is the richest hog; Forbes lists his current net worth at $2.1 billion. Born in Turkmenistan, Makarov has twin claims to fame: as founder of the first independent Russian gas company, Itera Oil & Gas Company, which he sold to Russia-controlled Rosfnet for $2.9 billion in 2013; and as a former member of the USSR Olympic national cycling team. Today, he is the president of Areti Group, which has offices and affiliated companies scattered around the globe, in places like Moscow, Belarus, Geneva and, best of all, Jacksonville. In a telephone conversation, Ernie Ruffell told Folio Weekly that Makarov employs him to care for the property, and said that the water meter services two adjacent properties totaling “a little over an acre.” He also said that watering is done by an automatic irrigation system, and that the home and adjacent guesthouse aren’t continuously in use. “We have guests in the house most of the year,” Ruffell said.

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