Preserving the Environment

The Big Apple’s Plan to Flush Out Old Commodes

June 4, 2014
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The Big Apple’s Plan to Flush Out Old Commodes
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
New York City will wipe out unnecessarily high water bills by installing 200,000 eco-friendly toilets.

Did you know that every single day, the average American flushes about 24 gallons of water down the toilet, which sets the country back $5 billion dollars annually? No one, especially those of us living in water-parched states, can afford to have this precious resource go down the drain.

While New York City isn’t experiencing the west’s horrific drought, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) is doing its part in saving water and, yes, money.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the agency has launched a $23 million program to replace 200,000 toilets in 10,000 buildings with high-efficiency models. The city is planning to send $125 vouchers for eligible residents to purchase an EPA-certified high efficiency toilet from approved vendors.

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The measure is just more proof that it pays to be green. As the WSJ points out, older models go through five gallons of water per flush, while newer models use only 1.28 gallons each time the level is pushed. In all, NYC’s toilet replacement program has the potential to save about 10 million gallons of water each day — reducing city costs by $9 million a year.

New Yorkers will also get to save some hard-earned cash. According to SavewaterNY, homes with high efficiency toilets can save more than $90 annually on their water bill, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilets.

Those of you causing a stink about how low-flow toilets require multiple flushes, Angela Licata, the NYCDEP’s deputy commissioner for sustainability, told WSJ that the newer models are more effective.

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Besides, as Licata said, “New Yorkers should not take the high-quality water supply for granted.” The Journal notes that the city is scheduled to shut down the Delaware Aqueduct (that supplies 60 percent of NYC’s water) for repairs in 2021 for up to 10 months.

New York City’s program isn’t something that’s completely unheard of. Last year, California became the first state in the country to require low-flow toilets in all residences and businesses.

Now just imagine if the whole country hopped on board. The EPA found that if every old, inefficient toilet in the nation was replaced with a more efficient model, we could save 520 billion gallons of water per year. Talk about a true watershed moment.

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