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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

Drought StrategiesMulchTo Water or Not To Water
Water Saver Rebate
Q&A Weekly Article and Archives


            I usually write about water conservation in the context of ways to have an attractive landscape without using much water. There have been some developments in SAWS programs to encourage area residents to use efficient appliances that deserve discussion. In a few instances, toilet bowls have been used as planters, but today we are more interested in toilets as a water-using fixture.

            Since 1994 all new toilets manufactured have been low flow toilets. The low flow toilets average 1.6 gallons of water per flush instead of 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush. In the normal course of things, toilets last about 25 years. SAWS is interested in speeding up the conversion to low flow toilets because it is an easy way to save huge amounts of water.

            If an average family flushes their toilet five times per person per day, the water savings in a three-person household would be about 11,000 gallons per year. With approximately 300,000 households in San Antonio, the difference between having low flow and high flow toilets is 3300 million gallons per year (10,122 acre-feet).

            Through the “Kick the Can” Toilet Rebate Program and the new Toilet Distribution Voucher Program SAWS hopes to speed up the conversion to low flow toilets. Counting conversions in schools, apartments, and commercial concerns, if we can speed up the process of conversion by 10 years that will result in a water-savings of nearly as much water as we use in San Antonio in one year!

            Through the “Kick the Can” Program you can receive a $75 rebate each for up to two new toilets for your home if you are replacing high flow toilets with low flow toilets. All toilets since 1994 are low flow toilets so anyone you select will be a low flow toilet. Do not make the mistake, however, and purchase one of the cheap versions. The $40—60 toilets are the ones that everyone complains about. They do not flush well and at times have to be flushed twice. Spend about $100 for a good toilet and then send SAWS your receipt for a rebate towards your water bill. For a “Kick the Can” rebate application form call 704-7354.

            To insure that the old high flow toilets do not get re-installed in another home, SAWS also requires that you drop the old appliances off at the toilet recycling site nearest to your homes. You will need to enter your name, address, and SAWS account number on the sign-in sheet. The sites are unmanned and receipts are not issued. The sites are located at the SAWS Northwest Conservation Site, 6798 Culebra, open Monday—Friday, 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.; Hughes Supply Company, 4510 Rittiman Rd., open Monday—Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; SAWS Eastside Service Center, 3930 E. Houston St., open Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.; and Habitat for Humanity’s Restore, 311 Probandt St., open 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

            For those of you who want to make sure you get toilets that work well and save even more money, SAWS will actually give you the toilet. Call 704-7527 to have us send you an application for the Toilet Distribution Program or stop by any SAWS Service Center. Conservation Department staff will even visit your church, service club or agency to discuss the program and drop off applications.

            You complete the application and send it to SAWS. SAWS will check to insure that you have not received your quota of two low flow toilets through the Kick the Can Program and will send you a voucher to pick up a recommended toilet at Habitat for Humanity at 311 Probandt St. You may also request a new showerhead(s). Again, the old toilet needs to be turned in after the replacement has been completed.

            If you are handy, I am told that putting in a new toilet is easy. SAWS provides the step-by-step instructions. The SAWS toilet experts tell me that the most important thing is to get the same size base in the new toilet as the old toilet. For the rest of us (the “unhandy”) it will be advisable to hire a plumber. It is estimated that most plumbers will charge about $100 for labor to replace a toilet. Also have them fix all the leaks at the sinks while they are there.

            Putting in a new toilet is not as much fun as gardening, but it is a relatively painless way to save 11,000 gallons of water pear year. Water savings that may prevent restrictions in the near future and be available for landscapes and new jobs in the farther future.