Water rebate ‘proof’ flushed away

Last year, Denver Water gave its residents a total of 1,136 rebates for installing low-flow toilets in their homes, but only after those toilet owners gathered up their potty, a camera and a sledge hammer.

To receive a rebate of $25 to $125 for installing a more efficient toilet, Denver Water customers had to destroy and then document their old, less-efficient toilet’s demise with a photo, according to Melissa Elliot, Denver’s manager of water conservation.

Toilets are the single biggest user of water inside of homes, according to Denver Water.

Elliot said she ended the need for Kodachrome proof in January because of customer complaints, safety concerns and lack of evidence that there is a black market for inefficient toilets — the original concern that prompted the destruction requirement.

"I believe that the great majority of our customers are legitimately trying to conserve water by installing a new, efficient toilet, so this seemed like a lot of effort to put them through, especially for the $25 for 1.6 [gallons per flush] toilets," Elliot said. "Anyway, we do still get photos of people’s old, crushed toilets sent in with their rebate applications so I’m sure there are a few old forms out there that say to send in such a photo."

Denver Water is hoping even more residents will invest in higher-efficiency toilets, but, as Elliot notes, it’s easier to brag about your high-efficiency washer at summer barbeques, thus clogging the backyard word-of mouth about water-saving toilets and the rebates available through Denver Water.