03 January 2010
By Jodie Tillman, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Sunday, January 3, 2010
Say you're thinking about this home improvement resolution for 2010: replacing that old water-guzzling toilet.
Would a credit-for-commode deal kick your plan into gear?
You could be eligible for up to a $100 credit on your Pasco County Utilities account if you replace a high-volume toilet (uses 3.5 gallons or more per flush) with a low-flow model (no more than 1.6 gallons per flush).
Pasco's low-flow toilet rebate began in August 2008.
Since then, 979 toilets have been replaced through the program, a joint project with Southwest Florida Water Management District, said Pam Wright, the county's program manager.
Assuming each toilet is flushed six times a day, that translates into an approximate water savings of 11,161 gallons per day, Wright said.
That rebate can cover the cost of some of the more affordable low-flow models, though she said she has seen invoices for new toilets that cost $1,000.
Customers are eligible for an additional $80 rebate for the replacement of a second toilet.
The program has been limited to west Pasco, mainly because it has a larger stock of older homes with the high-volume toilets. Starting in 1995, builders were required to install the lower flow toilets, Wright said.
But in October, the rebate program opened up to the entire county, meaning owners of older homes (pre-1995) in east Pasco are now eligible.
This year, Pasco County and the water district, known as Swiftmud, are splitting a $200,000 tab on the program, said Swiftmud spokeswoman Robyn Felix.
The goal, said Wright, is to give rebates for 1,500 new toilets.
The program cost also pays for a private contractor, Demetri's Solutions of Spring Hill, which manages the program since the county lacks the staff to do so, Wright said. The contractor has to inspect the old toilets as well as the new ones.
Toilets account for nearly 30 percent of household water use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The first generation of low-flow toilets in the late 1990s drew a number of complaints because people were having to flush more than once. But plumbers associations, as well as consumer surveys, say the technology has improved and today's models work much better than their predecessors.
Surrounding counties have had similar rebate programs in place for years. Commissioner Jack Mariano said he first heard about the idea at a water district conference a few years ago.
"I said, 'Why haven't we done that?' " he said.
So what happens to all those old toilets? Officials didn't want them sitting in a landfill — or in yards.
As part of the program, the contractor has the old toilets hauled to the county's resource recovery facility in Shady Hills, where workers dismantle them and send them to PAWS Recycling.
That company crushes the porcelain, mixes it with asphalt and uses it in road beds.