The Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) has for years been a leader helping its customers save money by saving water, and is thereby reducing its own long-term costs as well.
Last week, they launched a new free water conservation program that uses the world’s most efficient toilet as well as water friendly showerheads, sink and kitchen aerators to give customers state-of-the-art eco-friendly tools. It’s called “The Stealth System,” by Niagara Conservation. The new technology is the Stealth Toilet by Niagra Conservation, and it cuts the per-flush water consumption by at least 50 percent.
“[We] are a leader when it comes to finding and promoting the world’s best water conservation technology,” said EVMWD Board President, Ben Wicke.
“80 percent of [our customers’] homes use 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) toilets,” said Greg Morrison, EVMWD Director of Legislative and Community affairs. “A large portion of that group, maybe 10 percent, is much higher than 1.6 gpf. Some of the ‘old school’ toilets are 3.0 gpf.”
Niagara Conservation’s Stealth Toilet is rated at .8 gpf.
The Elsinore program, which launched last Wednesday, had 300 people sign up by the close of business on Friday. By the end of Monday, nearly 1,600 people had signed up for 2,700 of the 3,000 available toilets.
When a customer contacts EVMWD, they can receive an incentive for up to two toilets in their home. Along with the toilets, they also receive two Tri-Max Showerheads and two Low-Flow faucet aerators. The total package saves the average customer 10,950 gallons of water per year. What makes the savings even more attainable is that it requires no other behavioral changes.
The first phase of the program, which is currently underway, came after a six-month pilot program where the Water District installed 100 toilets around the district. Customers volunteered to put the toilets in their homes; several were installed in hotel rooms and in lobbies.
After all toilets received 100% positive feedback, EVMWD decided to expand the pilot program and move forward with a system-wide approach.
“We have money set aside for general [water] conservation, about $1 million per year,” said Morrison. “We try to provide incentives for conservation technology for our customers.”
In the long run, the cost savings actually come twice. Water customers will immediately begin using less water. But it will also keep water consumption down, which will mitigate the forecasted increases in the cost of importing water.
EVMWD imports their water from outside sources by the acre-foot. (For those not familiar with the term, that’s the equivalent of submerging a football field under one foot of water. It is also the average yearly consumption of two families of four.) Currently, an acre foot costs $840, but ten year projections show that price rising to more than $1300 per acre-foot.
“Our estimates show that over the life of the toilets, we will save $2 million,” said Morrison. “The technology that we use now can prepare us for the increases in the [future].”
Niagara Conservation products have received much acclaim since the company started more than 35 years ago. Last year, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials named the Stealth Toilet to its Top Five New and Innovative Water Efficient Products list. It has been featured in Popular Mechanics, and it will now be available for at least 1,500 of EVMWD’s customers.
“The Stealth System literally creates new ‘low hanging fruit’ for water agencies seeking to maximize conservation at a reasonable cost,” Niagara Conservation President and Founder Bill Cutler said. “Considering that California has mandated a 20 percent, per capita, water consumption reduction by the year 2020, the Stealth could be the silver bullet that helps agencies meet the mandate while setting a new standard for technological innovation. We’re proud to partner with Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District and believe they’re setting a new standard when it comes to conservation.”
With a limited number of incentives available, the Water District will likely have to decide whether or not to expand the program.
“If we get a good response, we can consider a second phase of the program in the next fiscal year, starting in July,” said Morrison.
According to Morrison, other agencies have run similar programs with a tremendous response. It’s likely that the customers demand will lead to next year’s incentives.