Valley Water OKs PG&E Savings Plan

The Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) board of directors approved on Dec. 9 a  partnership between the district and PG&E that will help low-income customers save money, water, and energy.

Beginning in January 2009, the partners will each invest up to $150,000 to enable low-income households to recevie free high-efficiency toilets (HETs) and free installation. These toilets are at least 20 percent more efficient than the current standard, according to a press release announcing the partnership.

"This partnership is truly beneficial for everyone involved.  Customers who could not afford to replace older water-guzzling toilet(s) due to high costs will now be able to make their homes more water efficient and assist the county reach the goal of cutting back water use by 10 percent,” said Valley Water Chief Executive Officer Olga Martin Steele.

Valley Water has called on all residents and businesses in Santa Clara County to conserve 10 percent of water use because of the current statewide drought and a 2007 court ruling imposing severe restriction on pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Delta delivers about half of Santa Clara County's water supply.

In addition, water conservation results in conserving energy and protecting the environment. In California, the biggest use of electricity is for pumping and treating water. Therefore, saving water saves energy, which, in turn, reduces emission of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.

Currently, Valley Water offers all residential customers throughout Santa Clara County rebates of up to $125 to replace toilet(s) that flush 3.5 gallons per flush or more. However, this rebate does not cover the entire cost of the HET, which averages around $300.  Through this direct installation program, qualified low-income customers will have an opportunity to save water.

The program will be available to qualified low-income residents who are customers of both Valley Water and PG&E. These residents will be identified by PG&E through the course of its regular home inspection program, and subsequently notified of their eligibility via direct mail or a phone call from the HET installation company. The city of San Jose will reimburse Valley Water (about $40,000)  for installations within the service area of San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant.

Water conservation is a key component of the Valley Water's strategy to meet short-term and long-term water supply challenges, such as dry years, growing water demand, and climate change. This need for conservation has become even more immediate and urgent because of the ongoing natural drought in the state and the court-imposed “regulatory drought.”

Program information is available on Valley Water Website at www.valleywater.org/conservation.

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