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City, county offer incentives to save water

Think of it as cash for flushers – or credit, depending where you live.

The City of Spokane and Spokane County unveiled new programs Thursday designed to cut the amount of water going into and out of homes by offering rebates to homeowners buying new Water Sense toilets or Energy Star washing machines to replace less-efficient versions of those appliances. Leaders from the two governments said it was part of the Indoor Water Conservation Program and an effort to protect the Spokane River and the aquifer the area taps for its water supply.

“It’s the right thing to do and it saves money,” County Commissioner Todd Mielke said.

Residents on the county sewer system and those in its sewer area — even if they are on a septic tank — can receive cash rebates of up to $100 for a new water-saving washing machine, and up to two $100 rebates for new high-efficiency toilets. City residents are eligible for the same amount, although they receive it as a credit on their utility bill.

Swapping a toilet manufactured before 1992 for a high-efficiency toilet saves more than two gallons per flush, Commissioner Bonnie Mager said. Upgrading to a water-saving washer can save 18 gallons per load.

The city has $200,000 this year for rebates, and plans to keep the program going for the foreseeable future as part of its overall water conservation efforts, Mayor Mary Verner said. The county has up to $1 million a year for the next four years for the rebates, program field coordinator Chad Pederson said.

Rebates are only available for replacing existing washers or toilets, and new construction doesn’t qualify. But they can be used with other utility, government and manufacturer’s rebates.

Residents can obtain information and an application for the program online; fill it out and mail it in for the rebate. Those without Internet access can call a help center to have an application mailed to them.

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