By Barbara Kessler

Lance Armstrong may have to take his own advice and “dare to change” his life after being outed as the city’s biggest water guzzler, using a whopping 222,900 gallons of water in June, according to an AP report that appeared in the Austin American-Statesman late last week.

In July, consumption jumped to 330,000 gallons, putting him way out in front of the competition at about 38 times what the average household uses, according to the New York Times, which jumped onto the story.

The seven-time Tour de France winner was unaware of the ghastly volumes of water his lushly landscaped Austin compound was consuming, despite water bills that would cause most mortals to swoon. We’re talking $1,630 for the month of June and $2,460 for July, according to the AP and the NYT. He didn’t know because a management company handles his accounts.

Apparently Lance and company haven’t heard of native plantings, a common way that other Hill Country residents tamp down on irrigation needs for home landscaping. Native plants are big with environmentalists, not to mention more frugal homeowners, because they can thrive on the typical waterfall for their area, be it in Pennsylvania, California or often-parched Central Texas. (Did Lance and onetime singer girlfriend Sheryl Crow, whose enviro credentials run as deep, never discuss such things?)

Ironically one of the “Dares” you can take on Armstrong’s healthy living LiveStrong website is to drink more water: “Drink more water to flush out toxins from the body, make your skin healthier and keep hunger pangs at bay. Your body needs water to replenish muscles and maintain balance, so aim for at least eight to 12 cups daily.”

Sounds like good advice. If there’s some left.

OK, chuckles aside, the champion cyclist conceded that he could do better in the conservation category. “I need to fix this,” Armstrong told the AP. “To use that much more water (than most residents) is unacceptable. I have no interest in being the top water user in Austin, Texas.”

Perhaps he could install a gray water system to recycle household water by using it on the landscape.

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