May 14, 2008

Georgia County Participates in Toilet Rebate Program

Program promotes conservation within the home

When attempting to manage a major water system during a severe drought, such as the one currently facing north Georgia communities, any effort to promote conservation among customers can make a significant difference in overall operations efficiency.

One local water utility is among those at the forefront of implementing initiatives for customers to practice wise water use, even creating financial incentives for them to do so.

The Henry County Water & Sewerage Authority (HCWSA) has budgeted $5,000 as an initial investment in the Toilet Rebate Program of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (MNGWPD). The authority has dedicated these funds to gauge whether customers are willing to curb their water consumption by replacing their older, less efficient toilets with newer models. The $5,000 will go toward paying for the cost of new toilets for those HCWSA customers taking part in the program through the MNGWPD.

Before initiating the process to swap out their old toilets and receive reimbursement, authority customers can check the MNGWPD website to see that the HCWSA is included on the statewide list of participating local jurisdictions. Until the funds have been exhausted from the authority’s investment in the program, the HCWSA will remain listed on the MNGWPD website.

To get the process started, customers can download an application from the MNGWPD website at www.northgeorgiawater.org, or request one by phone at 404.463.8645, and return the completed application, a copy of their most recent water bill and the original receipt of their purchase of a new toilet (that must qualify in terms of efficiency required for the program) to the MNGWPD office, which handles the administration of this program on behalf of the HCWSA.

Most importantly, however, applicants should note that their homes must have been built prior to 1993 in order to qualify for the program. After receiving the application packet from the HCWSA water customer, the MNGWPD verifies the information and the customer’s eligibility. When eligibility is determined, the MNGWPD then contacts the HCWSA to notify it of the amount of the rebate.

The “rebate” comes in the form of a credit to a customer’s bill, but this amount does not cover Georgia sales tax, additional installation parts, or the cost of installation of the new toilet.

Upon receipt of notification by the MNGWPD of a water customer’s eligibility for the toilet rebate, the HCWSA will respond within 5 business days as to whether the customer’s rebate request will be accepted or rejected, notifying the MNGWPD accordingly. This acceptance or rejection of the customer rebate—credit to the customer’s account—by the authority is determined primarily by whether or not that customer’s account is in good standing, with no past due balances, history of outstanding debt, etc. Each installation is subject to verification by the HCWSA.

Finally, customers will receive notice of the rebate from the MNGWPD within 30 days of the authority’s approval, including verification that the customer’s request has been accepted and processed. The credit should appear on the customer’s bill within two customer billing cycles.

When funding is exhausted, the HCWSA’s name will be taken off the program list on the MNGWPD’s website, at which time the authority will determine whether the level of response by customers and benefits of participation warrant additional funding for the program, said Lindy Farmer, general manager of the HCWSA.

“This [toilet rebate program] is one of the many strategies we are implementing as a water utility to promote wise water use among our customers,” Farmer said. “Conservation involves more than outdoor watering restrictions. It includes what customers are doing inside their homes as well.”

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