For The Answer
Community Challenge and the Wildlife Refuge
Low flow toilets save about 11,000 gallons in the typical household and they work just as well as the old water guzzlers. All toilets sold in Texas after 1991 are water efficient models. If your house was built in 1992 or after, you already have low flow toilets. If you have the high flow version, now is a good time to change it out. There are 96 non-profit entities including many neighborhoods, churches, Girl Scout troops and schools promoting the change out. They are doing it because low water use toilets are good for San Antonio but they also receive $25 for each toilet they convert.
The program is called the Season to Save Community Challenge. Participating groups sign up their members with high flow toilets to receive low flow toilets. They send the applications to San Antonio Water System (SAWS). SAWS determines eligibility and then if you are eligible you show up on February 12 at a location to be announced to pick up the toilet (or toilets). When you take your toilet home the sponsoring group receives the $25 to use for repairing the clubhouse roof, paying for a troop trip, putting in a new xeriscape at the school or one of many other good causes.
You are eligible if you are a SAWS customer, your home was built before 1992, you have high flow toilets and the residence has never received a rebate or free toilet from SAWS before. You may qualify for up to 2 toilets if you have two bathrooms. Individuals who are over 65 years old or are disabled, with a note from their doctor, may receive a handicapped version toilet. The toilets are high quality white Universal Rundle Atlas models. SAWS has distributed 40,000 so far without complaint.
To select from one of the 96 groups visit the SAWS website and contact the group you wish to support. There are several other ways to participate.
If you are not familiar with the new Wildlife Refuge the www.plantanswers.com website will have some information or you can visit the www.tx.audubon.org/mitchell.htm website.
The Refuge is an old SAWS wastewater site that for years has been popular with migratory birds. Right now there are several thousand white pelicans on the site. There is always significant bird action. Birding tours can be scheduled by calling ahead, or attending one of the regularly scheduled tours every Wednesday evening, departing at 4:30pm or every 3rd Sunday of the month departing at 8am. You can visit anytime between 8am and 4pm on Saturdays on your own or by appointment. There is a $2 entrance fee; children under 5 are admitted free. Birding tours are $5.
Gardeners who love native plants will be very pleased with the extensive wildscape planting around the Leeper House, Refuge headquarters. I generally like my wildscape gardens to include some well adapted but exotic plants like iris, old-fashioned roses and daylilies to add some color. The Mitchell Lake Garden however is very attractive with a complete native venue. Patti Leslie Pasteur, Judith Gowan, Charles Bartlett and the Gardening Volunteers of South Texas did a masterful job with the design and planting.
A major part of the new Refuge is going to be the education program, Refuge Manager; Iliana Pena plans to introduce thousands of youngsters and other visitors to the delights of nature. That’s where the amphitheatre comes in. She believes she needs an area outside where school children and others can sit to hear lectures. Visitors who cannot hike comfortably will use the amphitheatre to enjoy watching the birds and gardens.
Mitchell Lake Audubon Wildlife Refuge is south of the SA Police Academy. Take exit 46, Moursund Blvd off of 410 south and proceed south 0.7 miles. The phone number is 628-1639.
It is time to unload your water wasting old toilet and support the new Audubon Wildlife Refuge or another of the 96 good causes participating in Community Challenge.