Nearly two years after the New York City Council passed legislation requiring all new city buildings to have dual-flush toilets, the Big Apple’s Department of Environmental Protection is now prepared to offer rebates to homeowners and landlords who opt to replace antiquated commodes with models that use less than 1.28 gallons per flush.


Starting in 2013, the city will dole out $125 vouchers to New Yorkers who give water-guzzling potties the old heave-ho in an effort to reduce city-wide water usage by 3 percent per day. This may not seem like a significant amount but, according to city officials, it adds up to roughly 30 million gallons shaved off of the typical 1 billion gallons of water used daily across the five boroughs. It’s expected that 800,000 old toilets will be replaced as part of this cash for crappers scheme which is being launched to help lower water demand in anticipation of the temporary shut-down of the leaky, 85-mile-long Delaware Aqueduct in 2020.


In addition to the rebates, building owners can also expect to see a decrease in water bills. Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, tells the New York Times: “Water costs are roughly a penny for every gallon. Say three and a half less cents per flush — I don’t know how many times you flush — that’d be a savings.”

Fantastic news for water-conscious New Yorkers — on a side note, NYC will someday be home to the greenest public john in all of the land — but I can’t help but think of the “multimillion-dollar plumbing stink” that resulted, in part, from San Francisco’s water-saving toilet rebate program. Will NYC experience the same problem?
Potential odor-related setbacks aside, the DEP is currently seeking a recycling partner to handle all of the discarded toilets in a "beneficial" manner. Reads a press release: "The RFEI [Request for Expressions of Interest] seeks a provider for the collection, transport, and processing of the replaced toilets so that they are recycled instead of simply discarded. Porcelain products can be ground down to produce new products such as tile and other bathroom fixtures, as well as provide beneficial reuse as the foundation for road beds, construction fill or drainage material." Whoo boy …does this mean that “poticrete" sidewalks will soon be coming to NYC? Poticrete-filled potholes, perhaps?
And this isn’t the first time that New York City has launched a rebate program for water-saving toilets. Back in 1994, the city launched a similar scheme that lasted for three years and resulted in the replacement of 1.3 million outdated toilets.
Don't live in New York? Click here to find a high-efficiency toilet rebate program near you. And while we’re on the topic of water conservation, be sure to grab the latest, H2O-centric issue of Whole Living which includes a mighty helpful list of 50 ways to conserve water

Graphic: New York Department of Environmental Protection

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Going with the flow: NYC to offer water-saving toilet rebates
Starting next year, $125 vouchers will be available to New York City homeowners and landlords who replace older, water-guzzling commodes with newer, more effici