Because every flush wastes water, county residents may trade in their inefficient toilets for a subsidized low-flush toilet, which only use 1.6 gallons to do the job.
The toilets--valued at $100--come with seat, bolts and installation instructions and are being offered by the Municipal Water District of Orange County.
All a person needs is a wrench or pliers and about 40 minutes to install the new toilet, according to Joe Berg, conservation coordinator for the water district.
The district offers simple, American-made toilets for $40, Berg said, or will give people a $50 rebate to buy their own toilet from an approved list of suppliers.
The district's toilets are white, so people who want color toilets need to buy them through a supplier, Berg said.
Between now and June 11, residents who live in single-family homes may buy up to three low-flush toilets to replace their old five- to seven-gallon clunkers.
Each low-flush toilet can save 10,000 gallons of water per year, said Berg. That is a 25% savings in the typical water bill, he said.
If people also use the low-flush shower heads the district is giving away, they could save $40 yearly off their water bills, he said.
Since the program started, more than 1,400 district toilets have been distributed, and more than 800 people have bought toilets off the approved list.
"Both of the programs are a lot more popular than we really anticipated," Berg said. "So we're really happy with it."
Berg said the programs could save more than a billion gallons of water in 10 years.
The municipal water district is a wholesale supplier to 26 water districts in the county, supplying about 70% of the county's water needs, Berg said.
Berg said his staff has seen some porcelain relics during the program.
"We have run into some 11-gallon toilets, but they are few and far between," Berg said.
Those behemoths appear to date from the 1920s, he said.
To reserve a low-flush toilet, call (800) 676-4853.
The toilets will be distributed in Laguna Niguel on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and in Buena Park on June 9, 10 and 11.
People who want a rebate on a low-flush toilet of their choice should call (800) 378-8587.
Both options are on a first-come, first-served basis, Berg said.
The water district will crush old toilets to make a porcelain base for road construction.