Imagine the amount of water used by 1,128 homes over the course of a year. All those showers and loads of laundry, the watering of the lawn, the washing of dishes.

It’s a lot of water.

That’s how much is being saved by the County thanks to special toilet valves and ultra high efficient plumbing fixtures at the George Bailey Detention Facility. All that water not being flushed down the drain adds up to an estimated savings of $942,000 a year.

“This is a great example of just looking around at our everyday operations and asking ourselves: How can we make this better?” said County Energy & Sustainability Manager Peter Livingston.

“The County is committed to reducing our impact on the environment and saving the money that taxpayers entrust to us; here we’re doing both things at once,” Livingston said.

The new ICON devices limit the frequency of toilet flushing due to misuse and reduce the amount of water used in each flush – from 3.5 gallons per flush to 1.6 gallons. An added benefit is lowered maintenance costs for damaged levers inside the cells, because the only exposed part is an activation push button.

The project was made possible through a funding arrangement between San Diego Gas & Electric ($380,000), San Diego County Water Authority ($50,000) and the County ($40,000). The County’s contractor, Bottom Line Utility Solutions, Inc., began installing the improvements in the spring of 2009 and completed the project in November. The project, through its reduced water and sewer costs, has already paid for itself.