June 10, 2014

City Council OKs $450,000 for water-saving rebate plan

Rebates for water-saving items will continue for city of Wichita’s water customers.

Rebates for water-saving items will continue for city of Wichita’s water customers.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved authorizing $450,000 for the rebate program, following up on last year’s initial effort that city officials say resulted in saving 250,000 gallons of water daily.

An expanded program approved by the council is expected to push that to 280,000 gallons, said Alan King, director works and utilities.

“Education is the key,” Council Member Lavonta Williams said. “We have to keep getting the word out.”

King said plans are in the works to better spread the word about the program, including putting inserts in water bills.

“We want to save water,” he said, noting that conservation is part of the city’s long-range water plan.

The program goes into effect July 1. But it’s retroactive to Jan. 1, meaning anyone who has purchased one of the approved items since then may apply for a rebate.

More than 2,700 customers participated during the six months the plan was in effect last year, receiving rebates on more than 3,800 water-saving devices and appliances.

A breakdown of rebates last year show 1,358 were used for low-flow toilets, 910 for dishwashers, 861 for washing machines, 655 for rain barrels and 24 for sensors on irrigation systems.

Those items will be on the eligible list again this year, plus three other items: rain sensors that keep irrigation systems from operating when it’s raining, dual flush converters on toilets, and urinals.

Urinals were added because the program is expanding to include businesses as well as anyone who pays a water bill. Last year, it was limited to single-family residences.

Most items are eligible for a $100 rebate. Rain barrels will be reimbursed up to $75 and dual-flush converters up to $50. Receipts are required.

All items must meet water-saving requirements. For instance, toilets can’t use anymore than 1.2 gallons per flush. A list of acceptable items are on the public works and utilities’ page on the city’s website.

Rebates will be paid through credits on water bills.

Customers may get rebates on up to five items. Those who received rebates last year are eligible to participate in the program this year.

Starting July 1, applications for the rebates will be available on the public works and utilities website. A designated phone number to request an application will be available then, said Ben Nelson, strategy manager for public works and utilities.

The city will again use part of the fund to provide money to Wichita’s wholesale water customers – 11 area communities – that set up rebate programs.

More than $600,000 was left over from the $1 million approved by the council for the program last year, King said.

The city is reserving $150,000 of that money to pay for two studies: landscaping to reduce water use and reuse of industrial water.

The landscaping piece would also look at paying incentives for private water wells, so there would be less demand on city water, King said.

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