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Action: Under rebate plan, get preapproval before replacing toilet

Sisters replace toilets to reduce water use; why no rebate?

Q: I am writing for my 85-year-old mother and her 80-year-old sister. In 2007 they made a call regarding the Southwest Florida Water Management District's and Pasco County Utilities Department's toilet replacement rebate program. They were told they would receive $100 after they replaced their existing toilets, which they did at the end of 2008.

After calling to get their reimbursement, my aunt was told they do not reimburse for condos and villas. These two women are on Social Security and were counting on being compensated for doing their part to help conserve water.

We would like to know why reimbursements can't be given to residents in condos and villas.

Darrah Hawver

A: Villas and condos are qualified for rebates as long as you receive your water bill directly from Pasco County Utilities. Part of the rebate program is to go through preapproval before replacement to ensure you're qualified.

Demetri's Solutions is the administrator of the toilet rebate program in Pasco. Mena Falakos, Demetri's Solutions manager, said the Pasco County Utilities Rebate program started in July 2008 and is available only to west Pasco residents. It's possible your mom called before the startup of the program and was informed that she would be able to apply, but that did not constitute approval. Falakos said Demetri's cannot provide a rebate for the replacements because they weren't preapproved properly. Be sure to research programs before taking any significant or expensive action.

The standard procedure to get your rebate starts with a phone call to Demetri's Solutions. It will conduct a phone interview to determine if your existing toilet is high volume and to gather other information to make sure you qualify. If you do qualify and decide to replace your toilet, someone from the company will run an inspection on your new toilet, checking for proper installation and leaks, according to Falakos.

The first qualified replacement will receive a $100 rebate and the second in a household will receive $80. The program's goal is to reduce water usage by replacing high-volume toilets, which can use up to 3 gallons of water per flush, with low-flow toilets that use up to 1.6 gallons per flush.

As well as working to save water, the program includes disposal of your old toilet, which will be taken to a Pasco dump to be ground down and used as road base. Falakos said this avoids clogging the landfills with old "toilets that would sit there for 500 years; this way we're recycling too."

Pasco is not the only county offering such rebates. Pinellas County has participated in a toilet rebate program since 2001. Through June 2008, 94,921 high-flow toilets have been replaced, saving 2.5 million gallons of drinkable water per day.

Fast facts

To get information and to apply for a rebate:

Citrus, (352) 527-7650.

Hillsborough, (813) 274-6800, ext. 43305.

Hernando, (352) 540-4368, ext. 35139.

Pasco, (727) 810-0168.

Pinellas, (727) 725-2604; www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/ulft.html.

City of St. Petersburg, (727) 894-2044.

Action: Under rebate plan, get preapproval before replacing toilet 03/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:45am]

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