Tucson Water toilet rebate aims to reduce water usage

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As the summer heat hits Tucson, another thing this city doesn't doesn't want to lose: water. But the key to conservation could come with a simple flush of the toilet.

Tucson Water hopes a toilet rebate program will help prompt more people to replace those old pieces of porcelain.

"Toilets are just one of those fixtures that everybody uses everyday, several times a day, whether they're at work or at home."

That's why Tucson Water's encouraging people to trade in their old toilets for high-efficiency models. They use just over a gallon of water per flush, which the company estimates they can help the city conserve as much as 40,000 gallons of water each year.

"We actually rely on the reductions in water use through the increases in efficiency we gain whenever we do something like change out an old toilet and put a new one in."

Since July 2008, Tucson water has handed out rebates to people who replace their old toilets.

To qualify, participants must use Tucson water service and replace a toilet installed before 1991 or one that uses more than 3.5 gallons per flush.

The most basic high efficient toilet costs around $150. Residential customers can get back half of that money. For commercial customers it's even more, 75%.

"Its a no brainer. Its a really great idea."

Ernie Guthrie, who has sold toilets for years, says in the past some customers have been skeptical of the high efficiency toilets saying they take a few flushes. But he says the newer models are similar to older toilets and now more dependable, "The manufacturers are very particular about making sure they flush adequately, its to their benefit not to put something out that's going to flush one or two times."

Last year Tucson Water replaced more than 3,200 high water use toilets. This year it plans on replacing more than 3,700.