More details about Norfolk's rebate program on water-saver toilets will become available later this spring or early this summer.
Norfolk council gave the green light for the program last November. However, Norfolk's public works department has been reviewing details to ensure the program achieves its objective, which is reducing the amount of water used for flushing in areas serviced by municipal water and sewer systems.
"We're focusing on the older homes, not on people who are building five-plexes or doing renovations," public works general manager Eric D'Hondt said. "They are required to install water-saver toilets anyway. We want the new toilets installed on the municipal system. We don't want them installed as part of a renovation to a cottage."
Jeff Mereweather, owner of The World of Plumbing in downtown Simcoe, has been advising the county on the program. He said the county must ensure that rebates go to people on the municipal system who are replacing old 13-litre flush toilets.
"The water-saver toilets of today outperform the 13-litre toilets," Mereweather said. "There was a time when water-saver toilets didn't perform -they had to be flushed twice -but that's been resolved."
Municipalities have zeroed in on old toilets because they are often the biggest source of wasted water in a household. Only one in five flushes on an average toilet involves the disposal of solids.
Water-saver toilets generally rely on a six-litre flush, though advances have been made that reduce this to 4.5 litres. Dual flush water savers are now on the market that allow for a three-litre flush for liquids and a six-litre flush for solids.
The county's plan is to pay $100 for every 13-litre toilet taken off the system. For the program to be effective, Mereweather says homeowners must turn their old toilet over to the county.
Public works wants to eliminate old toilets because this would reduce the amount of chemicals and electricity needed to process sewage at the county's wastewater treatment plants. Smaller flushes also reduce wear and tear on the county's wastewater infrastructure. The county is consulting the City of Waterloo about its experience with a similar program.
"If successful, this will be an ongoing program in the water budget," D'Hondt said. "Some toilets are more successful than others. There is no use for this if people buy toilets that have to be flushed twice."
Mereweather agreed. The key to buying a water-saver toilet, he said, is to look for its "maximum performance" rating. Anything with a 400 MP or higher, Mereweather said, will do the job. The MP is the rating an independent agency has given a particular brand's flushability.