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City launches rebate program for low-flush toilets

By: Kevin Ma

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012 06:00 am

SAVES CASH AND WATER - The City of St. Albert is offering residents a cash rebate on the purchase and installation of dual or low-flush toilets as part of an effort to reduce water use. A dual-flush model, like the one pictured here, will qualify you for a $75 rebate.
SAVES CASH AND WATER - The City of St. Albert is offering residents a cash rebate on the purchase and installation of dual or low-flush toilets as part of an effort to reduce water use. A dual-flush model, like the one pictured here, will qualify you for a $75 rebate.
KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

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St. Albert residents will be rewarded for low flushing now that the city has brought in a long-awaited rebate program for water-saving toilets.

City officials announced Monday that it would offer residents rebates for any low or dual-flush toilet installed in their homes after Jan. 1, 2012. The rebates, run in partnership with the non-profit group C3, are part of the city’s plan to reduce domestic water use.

St. Albert residents use about 267 litres of water a day, according to city environmental manager Leah Jackson, about 30 per cent of that is flushed down the toilet.

City residents can get $50 when they replace their old toilet with a low-flush one, says city environmental co-ordinator Meghan Myers, and $75 if they replace it with a dual-flush. Residents can get up to one rebate per home. There’s about $30,000 in the rebate fund and she says it will go fast — she’s been getting calls about the rebate for months.

Low-flush toilets use as little as a quarter of the water that traditional ones do, says Candace Bjornsen, who manages C3’s toilet rebate program. “That’s a huge amount of household water savings.”

Greener toilets

C3 runs about seven toilet-rebate programs in Alberta, Bjornsen says, now including St. Albert’s. Those programs have helped fund the replacement of about 2,000 toilets since 2009.

Most low-flush toilets cost about $199, says Tony Thistle, a plumbing specialist at St. Albert’s Rona hardware store, or about $75 more than a standard one. Older toilets can use about 20 litres per flush, while modern ones use about 13 litres per flush. Some low-flush models get by with just 4.8 but a typical low or dual-flush toilet will use six litres per flush.

Not only do you save lots of water, Myers points out that St. Albert residents pay twice for all the water they flush – once for the water and once for the wastewater. Assuming four flushes per person per day, the Gazette estimates that a two-person household could save about $128.78 a year on water and wastewater fees by replacing a 20-litre toilet with a six-litre one. They would also save enough water (40,880 litres) to fill around 245 bathtubs.

A lot of toilets on the market have not been tested, Bjornsen says, which means they might not get the job done in one flush. Their rebates only apply to toilets that have been tested to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards and have received the WaterSense seal of approval, which looks like a blue and green droplet.

Whatever toilet you get, Thistle says, make sure it has an exit pipe that’s at least five centimetres wide and coated with porcelain, otherwise it will clog.

Many people run into problems with the wax ring and bolts of the toilet during installation, he continues. The bolts should be tightened until snug, he explains, with the same amount of rotations applied to each. Excess rotations can cause the toilet to crack. Use a ruler to determine the thickness of the wax ring you’ll need to put under the toilet, and wait three days after installation before you seal it up — that’ll give you time to spot any leaks.

Garbage crews won’t take your old toilet if you put it out on the curb, says city solid waste programs co-ordinator Christian Benson, so take it to an Eco-Station or dump instead. You could also smash the toilet and put the bits in your brown bin, but the Eco-Station is easier.

Call C3 at 1-888-537-7202 or visit www.stalbert.ca/toiletrebate for details on the rebate.


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