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Flush with cash: Los Osos offers rebates for switching to water-saving fixtures



The toilet. It’s probably the grossest thing in your house right now—save, maybe a moldy abomination in the back of your fridge. If there’s one piece of furniture that people would rather not have to clean, fix, deal with, or even think about, it’s the toilet. But, the toilet is also the piece of furniture that has the biggest impact on the parched towns and cities of SLO; gallons of precious water are literally going right down the drain with every flush.

COMODE CASH:  Los Osos is paying to replace your crappy old water guzzlers with sleek new low-flow thrones. - PHOTO BY TOM FALCONER
  • COMODE CASH: Los Osos is paying to replace your crappy old water guzzlers with sleek new low-flow thrones.

Sure, there are low-flow toilets, but if the house already has a standard water-guzzler, it can be hard to want to spend time and money to replace it.

Los Osos has a solution. The town is buying low-flow toilets, showerheads, and washing machines for any citizen who needs one. If everything goes according to plan, the water-saver rebate plan could save the town thousands of gallons of water.

The main reason the program got started wasn’t the drought, according to Los Osos wastewater project manager John Waddell. The rebate was actually put into place in order to get Los Osos homes ready to be connected to the new water treatment system, which should be complete in 2016.

“The project will allow the community to collect and recycle their wastewater, rather than just disposing of it into the groundwater basin—which is their drinking water supply—or to seep to Morro Bay,” Waddell said. “By stopping the groundwater pollution and recycling the water to be reused, the community will be in a much better position to manage their water resources in a sustainable manner.”

By the time the wastewater plant is up and running, water-saver toilets will actually be mandatory. The rebate program was designed both to incentivize early adoption and also to help lower the financial impact of the toilet upgrades.

Los Osos residents have until the end of the year to apply for the maximum rebates. The town is offering up to $250 for toilets, $150 for clothes washers, $40 for showerheads, and $5 for sink aerators. Both commercial and residential properties can apply for the rebates, and commercial properties can also get up to $500 by replacing their urinals.

Waddell is encouraging citizens to act soon so that they can get the biggest rebate possible. “After this year, the rebate amounts are reduced and basically cover the cost of new fixtures, but not installation by a plumber,” Waddell said.

Any toilet that uses more than 1.6 gallons per flush is eligible.

There are two ways to apply for the rebate. If you’re installing the fixtures yourself, you have to call 788-6633 and schedule a pre-inspection to make sure your property is eligible, then buy and install the fixture (save the receipt), then go to and fill out the application, finally schedule a post-inspection to make sure you actually installed the fixture.
The process is simpler if you decide to have a plumber install your fixture. All you have to do is hire a licensed plumber who will then be able to verify eligibility, complete the retrofit, and submit the rebate application.

Fast fact

The results are in! This year’s Coastal Cleanup Day was a success. On Sept. 20, more than 1,050 volunteers picked up more than 3,600 pounds of trash at the county’s beaches. The event was hosted by the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO), which does more than just beautify the shoreline; ECOSLO takes note of what types of trash are collected. They then report those findings to the California Coastal Commission where it is used to influence policy. This year the most common trash was cigarette butts, followed by food wrappers and beverage cans. Litter doesn’t have to be depressing, though. Every year the Coastal Commission holds a competition for the weirdest garbage. This year the winners were a fake teeth toy, a nose-hair trimmer, a wallet with library card, and a large cash-register drawer.


This week’s Strokes & Plugs was found 
on the beach by Intern Cliff Mathieson. Send nonprofit and business news to

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