By Kathryn Eakens Friday, 02 July 2010
Though the summer is off to a wet start, weather patterns are difficult to predict, and a drought can happen at any time. The cities of Round Rock and Pflugerville both offer programs that not only encourage residents to conserve water, but can also save them money in the process.
The Round Rock City Council approved a resolution May 27 creating two new water conservation pilot programs—a toilet rebate program and an efficient irrigation program—which began June 1.
The toilet rebate program offers City of Round Rock residential water customers a rebate for replacing their existing toilets with a model off the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense list. Similar to the logo associated with the Energy Star Program, the WaterSense logo—a blue and green water droplet—signifies products that have been third-party tested and designated water efficient.
“The toilet is the No. 1 user of water inside the house. If you’re going to do one thing inside your house to save water, it should be to replace your toilet with a WaterSense label model,” City Water Conservation Specialist Jessica Woods said. “It’s the easiest thing to do and the most cost-effective thing to do.”
A resident can receive a rebate of up to $100 per toilet for replacing up to two toilets in their home, which must have been built prior to Jan. 1, 1996.
“In 1992, a national standard became effective saying all toilets have to use 1.6 gallons per flush or less, but all the manufacturers did was put less water in the tank so those early ’90s toilets were just awful,” Woods said. “By 1995, the industry had reconfigured how the toilets actually worked so anything built since 1996 has those second generation toilets that are better. That’s why I chose that as the cutoff date.”
To qualify for the efficient irrigation program, residents must also be City of Round Rock water customers—residential or commercial—and have an existing irrigation system.
“I’ll come out to the property and conduct an irrigation evaluation on their system to see how much water it’s using now and give my recommendations on what could help that system be more efficient,” Woods said. “If there’s anything I recommend that is on our rebate list, then they could get that work done and apply for a rebate.”
Residential customers can receive up to $300 in rebates, while the maximum for commercial and multifamily customers is $600.
Woods said both programs run through Sept. 30 or until funding—which comes from revenue generated by the city’s peak usage water rates—runs out. Applications are available at www.roundrocktexas.gov.
The city’s Drop by Drop program, which has been in place for several years, offers City of Pflugerville water customers a rebate for landscaping their lawns with approved plants, trees, shrubs and grasses.
After filling out an application including a sketch of the current landscape and a list of planned improvements, applicants have until the end of June each year to implement the plan once it is approved by the city.
“Not only would you be reducing water, but ideally you would be reducing maintenance time in your yard so you wouldn’t be producing as many carbon dioxide emissions from lawnmowers and that kind of thing,” City Forester April Rose said. “Native plants usually need much less in the way of fertilizer so you’d be reducing not only the demand for fertilizer but the potential runoff into storm water. They also provide better habitats for birds and other wildlife.”
Participants can receive a rebate for half of their expenses, up to $500. As part of the Drop by Drop program, the city also sells rain barrels and composters to residents at cost—$40 for a rain barrel and $60 for a composter.
A demonstration garden showing some of the plants and grasses that qualify under the program is located at the Pflugerville Recreation Center, and applications are available at www.cityofpflugerville.com
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