Tag Archives: water conservation

USA, Austin, TX: toilet rebates not cost effective, city says in canceling program

The City of Austin is ending its toilet-rebate program as water utility officials shift limited dollars to other water conservation measures.

Low-flow toilets will still be available free of charge for residents and business owners willing to pick them up at a local city-contracted vendor. This program targets individuals, as opposed to contractors, who often sought rebates for many toilets at once.

City officials say water conservation is as big a priority as ever, but reimbursing homeowners and businesses for low-flow toilets purchased at retailers was not cost-effective compared with other water-conservation programs. The rebate program is an example of how incentives for buying eco-friendly products can lose their effectiveness as those products become widely available and prices drop.

High-efficiency toilets use about 63 percent less water than older models, according to the water utility. The city offered the rebates in an effort to conserve water. That in turn allowed the city to conserve resources and avoid steep price increases that would occur if Austin uses more water than allowed under a contract with the Lower Colorado River Authority, which provides most of the city’s water.

But the toilet rebate program is no longer the best method for conserving water, said Drema Gross, acting water conservation division manager for the Austin Water Utility. The rebate, which included installation costs until recently, cost the utility up to $200 per toilet, she said; by contrast, simply giving away the toilets costs the city about $71 (the per-toilet cost of a wholesale contract).

“When you look at the cost/benefit of the rebate program, it just doesn’t give us as much bang for the buck,” Gross said.

In a sense, the program is also a victim of its own success.

It began in the mid-1990s , but was targeted mainly to single-family homes. In 2009 , the city decided to shift emphasis to large buildings such as apartment complexes and hotels.

Private contractors also recognized a business opportunity, city officials said. Contractors began approaching apartment complexes and offering to handle the work of switching out old toilets en masse; in essence, a building owner could get dozens or even hundreds of new toilets installed with almost no effort, on the city’s tab.

Some members of the city’s Resource Management and Water and Wastewater commissions wondered whether the city needed to offer such a rich enticement to install a widely available appliance.

In November 2009 — barely a month into the city’s budget year — the rebate program had exhausted almost all of the $2.3 million the city had budgeted for water-conservation measures, including subsidies for rainwater collection barrels and low-flow washing machines. The City Council approved an additional $3 million , but the toilet rebate program promptly chewed through that as well.

Five months into the 2010 budget year, the city had almost doubled the number of toilet rebates it had accepted the year before; apartment-complex rebates increased nearly eightfold, to 7,697.

“The demand that we saw far exceeded what we expected,” Gross said.

Web site: City of Austin Free Toilet Program

Source: Marty Toohey, Statesman.com, 29 Jun 2010

Venezuela: save water, stop singing in the shower says Chavez

President Hugo Chavez called on Venezuelans to stop singing in the shower and to wash in three minutes because the oil-exporting nation is having problems supplying water and electricity.

“Some people sing in the shower, in the shower half an hour. No kids, three minutes is more than enough. I’ve counted, three minutes, and I don’t stink,” he said during a televised Cabinet meeting.

“He obviously has no teenage daughters”, remarked English columnist Gerald Warner in the Telegraph. “You could not ask for a better illustration of the knee-jerk instinct of socialism to intrude into every area of private life than the prohibition of singing in the bath and the restriction of showers to three minutes”.

Venezuela has suffered several serious electricity blackouts in the past year because of rapidly growing demand and under-investment, which has been aggravated by a drop in water levels in hydroelectric dams that provide most of its energy. Chavez announced energy-saving measures and said he would create a ministry to deal with the electricity shortages. Other proposed measures included cloud-seeding and prohibiting imports of low-efficiency electrical appliances. He called on ministries and state-run companies to cut energy consumption by 20 percent immediately.

More Latin American countries are facing water problems. Two months ago Brazilians were urged to “pee in the shower” to conserve water.

See Hugo Chavez’ promo speech for the three-minute shower (in Spanish).

Source: Ana Isabel Martinez, Reuters / Washington Post, 21 Oct 2009

Water-conscious Brazilians urged to wee in the shower

A TV advertising campaign [Xixi no Banho - see below] in Brazil is encouraging people to urinate while having a shower to save water that would be used by flushing the toilet.

The creators of the ad, environmental group SOS Mata Altantica (SOS Atlantic Rainforest), say they are using humour to drive home a serious message.

The advert says that every home that avoids one flush per day could save over 4,000 litres of water each year – enough to help overcome drought in the rainforest.

Source: Sam Bond, edie, 05 Aug 2009

Visit the multimedia campaign web site [in Portuguese] “Xixi no Banho” (pee in the shower)

USA – If You Think You Can’t Replace a Toilet, Think Again

It may be surprising to learn (well, I was surprised, anyway) that toilets use 30-40 percent of the water in our homes, far exceeding all other single activities. Delivering water takes energy, electricity to be specific, since it’s pumped to our homes from great distances.

While we do take advantage of the natural fall from the Sierras, we still use over 10 percent of our total state energy budget moving water. Making electricity generates carbon in many cases (we do have some hydroelectric power in the state as well as some nuclear) and this increases global warming as well as the acidity of the oceans just to mention two of the effects we’re aware of.

As of Aug. 1 this year, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has us on a Drought Emergency Rate Schedule for water service. You’ve probably heard. Families will be expected to keep their use under 172 gallons per day or pay at a higher rate. The base rate is $2/100 cubic feet of water and goes up to as much as $3.05 if you can’t get your teenager out of the shower in something under an hour.

With all this in mind, I suggest that you take on the, relatively simple, task of replacing one or more of your toilets. It’s actually not that hard.

More – Berkeley Daily Planet

Experts Look to Solve World’s Growing Water Shortage

Experts are franticly searching for a solution to the world’s growing water footprint, as urban populations increase and demand for biofuels cause water problems for farmland. As many as 2.5 billion people (half the population of Earth) have no access to sanitation – most of them living in urban slums. The world’s cities are booming by 1 million people a week and the aging water systems are being taxed. (…) Experiments are now underway in a dozen cities from Lima to Beijing looking to ease the pressure on water sources. The Pilot Projects is an ongoing mission by the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization that is funded by the European Union in order to attack various issues such as turning rooftops into gardens, capturing and recycling rain, recharging underground water reservoirs with waste water, and swapping traditional flush sanitation for dry toilets.(…)

Read more

10 ways to save water and money

With a few small, simple changes, you can help reduce your water use, leaving more water in the rivers, lakes and other freshwater sources. These changes will also result in a lower water bill so should benefit your home finances as well:

1. Consider cutting a little water usage from your morning routine. Does anyone really need to shower for more than 5-10 minutes? Keeping a timer in your bathroom will remind you to wrap up and get out. And please turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth and while applying soap to your dirty dishes. All that perfectly clean tap water is just going down the drain.

2. If a home renovation is in the cards, splurge on low-flow and water-efficient appliances − they’ll save you money in the long-run. A front-loading washing machine, for example, uses 40-60% less water than top-loading machines — and 30-50% less energy.

3. Even a new toilet can save you water! New technology can help you limit the gallons used each time you flush. And there are more old-fashioned ways to save water, too: if you can’t install a low-flow toilet, reduce the amount of water used by placing a jar or other closed container full of water into your toilet tank.

Read MoreNature Conservancy

India – toilets to save water and recycle waste into manure

Kanpur, February 1 – A faculty member of the environmental engineering department of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) has devised an unique toilet system called “Zero-Waste Toilets”. Such toilets will not only cut down wastage of water but also recycle the waste, to be later used as manure. Prof Vinod Tare and his team, in collaboration with UNICEF, is at present installing four such public toilets in Kanmari Ganj Road locality of Aligarh district. Also, a similar toilet will be installed on the Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram train on an experimental basis, as the project is also being handled by the Technology Mission on Railway safety (TMRS) — a joint initiative of the Ministry of Railways and IIT-K.

Read MoreExpress India