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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Rebates encourage water conservation

New toilets, washers use half the volume

Spokane-area sewer customers soon can flush their way to savings.

County and city officials this summer will unveil programs that will provide $100 rebates to buy new water-efficient toilets and washers.

While the program will help conserve water, its main goal is to reduce wastewater, said Lloyd Brewer, Spokane’s environmental program manager.

The city and county are facing new guidelines on treatment that will cost millions to meet. They say the less sewage to clean, the less their costs.

The city of Spokane has earmarked $200,000 for its toilet and washer replacement program. Spokane County has set aside $1 million a year for the next four years.

The county hopes to build a new wastewater treatment plant before its sewage capacity runs out in the next few years.

“When looking at $150 million (for a new sewer plant), to spend a couple million to reduce flow into the facility we think makes good economic sense,” said Spokane County Water Resources Manager Rob Lindsay. “Reductions in flows can make a significant impact.”

Both programs will offer the rebates to replace toilets installed before 1992, when new federal guidelines went into effect. New washers are eligible for a rebate if they have an Energy Star rating. Rebates will be given in the form of utility bill reductions.

Ben Brattebo, a county water resources specialist, said older toilets used between 3.5 and 7 gallons per flush. Newer ones use as little as 1.3 gallons. Older washers use about 50 gallons a load. New ones use about half as much.

The county has estimated that if 10 percent of the eligible county residents who live in homes built before 1992 replace old toilets and washers with new ones, it would save about 400,000 gallons a day. The county system currently creates about 8 million gallons of sewage a day.

County residents already served by sewers and those who live in areas where sewers are planned will be eligible.

Both programs have limited the rebates to residential customers. Brewer and Lindsay said more details on the rebates will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Jonathan Brunt can be reached at jonathanb@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5442.
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