For The Answer
KICK THE CAN TOILET REBATE PROGRAM ENDING
We do not discuss toilets much in this column, although old ones are sometimes used as planters. Like lawns and gardens, toilets, however, are an important part of water conservation. You can use an excessive amount of water on your lawn and you can use an excessive amount of water in your toilet. All toilets manufactured after 1992 are water efficient models that use 1.6 gallons of water with every flush. Some of those built in 1992 or before can use as much as 7 gallons per flush, others use 3.5 or 5 gallons per flush. If you do the math, a new toilet uses 10,000 gallons per year less water than the older models in a typical San Antonio household.
SAWS Conservation staff estimate that there are still 200,000 old fashioned water-wasting toilets left in this city. That means that, if they were replaced with modern low-flow toilets, we would have two billion gallons extra water each year for our gardens and businesses with new jobs. If the water was not needed for those uses it would allow us to delay the purchase of water from expensive new sources. The excuse for having a water-wasting toilet is reduced even further when you realize that SAWS provides free low-flow toilets to any qualified SAWS customer who wants one through the Community Challenge, Plumbers to People, and Toilet Distribution programs. These are high quality toilets that have satisfied San Antonians for a number of years. In fact, 20,000 were distributed last year.
The Season to Save Community Challenge is the program where non-profit groups get $25 for every homeowner they sign up to replace a water-wasting toilet with a low-flow toilet. Plumbers to People is a program that enlists plumbing contractors to fix leaks for low-income SAWS customers. The Toilet Distribution program provides free toilets to all SAWS customers (including apartment building and other businesses). Obtain an application from any SAWS Customer Service Center, call the Conservation Department at 704-7354 to request one be mailed, or print out an application from our website at www.saws.org and click on Conservation. Eligibility requirements for all toilet programs include having to be a SAWS customer, the home has to be built before 1992, and the address should not have previously received the free toilets or rebates.
The website will also provide information on another program, the Kick the Can toilet rebate program. The program provides SAWS customers a $75 rebate on their water bill if you buy your own low-flow toilet, complete the application, and submit it with the original receipt for the purchase of the toilet. Up to two toilets are eligible for a $75 rebate for each one that is converted. Thousands of San Antonians have taken advantage of the program since 1996 but since it is no longer as efficient as the other programs, it will end December 30, 2004. That’s right, it’s the 30th and not the 31st because of the holiday and budget timelines.
An evaluation of the Kick the Can rebate program last year revealed that, in recent years a large number of the rebates were given to customers who were replacing toilets because they were worn out. It was perfectly legal but the idea is to offer the rebate to customers as an incentive so they will speed up the conversion to a more efficient toilet.
Anyway, the fact is SAWS customers have only until December 30, 2004 to take advantage of the Kick the Can rebate. If your home still has a pre-1992 high-flow toilet, use the old water-guzzling model as a planter for snapdragons or discard it at any of the SAWS toilet drop-off sites located at 6798 Culebra Road at the Northwest Conservation Site (open 24 hours, seven days a week), 3930 E. Houston at the SAWS Eastside Service Center (open 24 hours, seven days a week), and at 4510 Rittiman Road at Hughes Supply (open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.). All plastic and metal should be removed; only the porcelain tank and bowl are accepted. The sites are unmanned so please be prepared to unload it yourself. The new toilet will work as well or better than the old model, your water bill will be reduced from what it would be with the old toilet, and you will be doing your part for water conservation.