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Some customers identified in our list of the city’s top water users saw large increases in their year-over-year water use. (We compared July 2007-June 2008 with the same period a year earlier.)

And in at least one case, it’s not necessarily because they were using more water.

The Irvine Company (No. 14), a major property owner, posted a 46 percent increase. Bill Rams, a spokesman, said the company appeared to use more because it bought 3 million square feet of office space as well as Torrey Villas, a 473-unit apartment complex. Rams said consumption at the company’s offices and apartments in San Diego had actually decreased 3 percent from a year earlier.

Point Loma Nazarene University’s consumption jumped 24 percent. A water main at the school (No. 38) leaked underground for a year before being found. “This water leak just tore us up,” said Richard Schult, the school’s physical plant director.

Scripps Health’s hospitals went in different directions. Scripps Memorial in La Jolla (No. 33) cut use 72 percent. Don Stanziano, a Scripps spokesman, said the hospital’s water meter was bad in 2007 and had overestimated use — creating the appearance of savings. The same problem created the appearance of a 30 percent increase at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest.

But the 52 percent drop in use at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla was real, Stanziano said. The facility switched to using reclaimed water — highly treated sewage — for irrigation, he said.

Manchester Resorts (No. 64), the company led by Doug Manchester, increased its use almost 10 percent. That happened because the company’s newest hotel, the Grand Del Mar opened, Manchester said.

“We just had to water more grass,” he said.

ROB DAVIS

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