PALM SPRINGS (KPIX 5) – With 300 days of sunshine a year and miles of bright green lawns, this is Palm Springs, smack in the heart of the Sonoran desert.

It’s the town Bob Hope and Dinah Shore made famous, with a modern problem even Frankie and Dino couldn’t fix.

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In the middle of an epic drought, the Coachella Valley is home to the highest water consumption in the state, up to ten times greater than Bay Area usage.

There’s a shockingly wide range of water usage among Californians. Sippers in San Francisco averaged 41 gallons a day in March. East Bay MUD customers used a bit more, at 65.8 gallons.

Palm Springs residents rate as the king of water guzzlers, using more than 200 gallons a day, but that number doubles during the summer months.

Bay Area water usage compared to Palm Springs. (CBS)

Bay Area water usage compared to Palm Springs. (CBS)

Jeffrey Morgan of the Sierra Club said it is not sustainable.

In our first hour on the ground, KPIX 5 spotted a hose at the Renaissance Hotel flowing, watering the concrete. Outside a restaurant in downtown Palm Springs, misters work overtime on a cool 80 degree day, literally making it rain on the sidewalk.

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At the Victoria Falls development, a water feature that looks to be a mini homage to Niagara Falls.

Water feature in a Palm Springs neighborhood. (CBS)

Water feature in a Palm Springs neighborhood. (CBS)


Even gas stations had lawns. KPIX 5 asked Morgan why a gas station needed a lawn. “Not quite sure,” Morgan said.

And here’s something to really tee you off. Golf courses suck up more than 20 percent of the water in the Coachella Valley. Public courses are on recycled water, but the private courses have their own wells, tapping directly into the overtaxed aquifer. The green grass seems to go on forever.

“It’s difficult because we have seen 20 percent cutbacks already from 2007 to 2013,” James Cioffi of the Desert Water Agency said. “You have to understand too, though that we are a tourist economy. We have a lot of imported people that come from other parts of the country that are used to grass, used to lawns.”

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Some conservation programs are taking place, but the Desert Water Agency said that they can’t meet the 36 percent cutback mandated by Gov. Jerry Brown.