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Water Authority’s Rebate Voucher Program Ending

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After 15 years, a countywide program that has saved billions of gallons of water is ending. The San Diego County Water Authority's rebate voucher program ends this month. Joanne Faryon has the story.

The voucher program began in the 90s during a drought. It gives homeowners rebates when they replace their old toilets with new efficient ones. The Water Authority says the program has been so successful, it's no longer needed. And that's because most people have already replaced their old water guzzling toilets.

This is a new high efficiency toilet. Each flush uses just a little over a gallon of water.

This toilet is in my house and I got a $75 rebate from the water department when I bought it a few months ago. But upstairs is a toilet that was installed when my house was built 20 years ago. This toilet uses almost 8 gallons of water with every flush. It's literally water and money down the drain.

And that's why the San Diego County Water Authority is encouraging people to install new toilets before the end of the month. They can collect between $75 amd $165 in a rebate if they buy a qualifying toilet.

Rose Smutko, San Diego Water Authority: They have only 20 shopping days left until march 31. And it’s important to remember these are for people who haven't used the voucher. If you've already used the voucher, this program isn't for you. But if you haven't used the voucher and you have one of those old 5 to 8 gallon guzzlers these are the people we are trying to reach by March 31.

In the past 15 years the voucher program has been responsible for putting 500,000 new toilets in homes. It's cost the Water Authority and county municipalities $375 million.

But it’s saved 102 billion gallons of water. That's right, billions. And it’s an important statistic -- given San Diego County imports about 80 percent of its water from other sources.

The water authority says the voucher program was an obvious success, but it was long overdue for San Diegans.

Smutko: Other countries have had these for years. Europe, they've used these types, Austrailia, I asked a manufacturer -- and they had been in business for 30 years -- so it’s not such a revolutionary thing, except in America.

You can find out more about how to apply for the voucher program at just about any home improvement or plumbing supply store.

The water authority has also introduced a program to educate homeowners about how much money they can save with smarter irrigation systems. In fact, there are smart sprinkler systems out there that measure temperature and adjust water levels accordingly. And they even know when it rains so they shut themselves off.

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