The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is kicking off a free toilet installation program for low-income households, utility spokesman Tyrone Jue said today.

The program, the first of its kind in San Francisco, is designed to encourage water conservation through the installation of high-efficiency, low-flow toilets.

Upgrading to a high-efficiency toilet can reduce indoor water use by 16 percent, or about 20,000 gallons per year for a family of four, according to the SFPUC.

Federal law mandates that toilets manufactured or sold in the U.S. after Jan. 1, 1994, must use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Many toilets built earlier than that use as much as 7 gallons per flush.

The SFPUC has offered upgrades or rebates for low-flow toilets over the past two decades, but is now offering to install toilets in low-income households for free.
In the past 19 years, the agency has upgraded or rebated nearly 78,000 toilets. It has also rebated about 18,000 washers and conducted more than 11,5000 water conservation audits at homes and businesses in San Francisco.

The new toilet program was scheduled to be announced this afternoon at a home in the city’s Bayview District, where the renter is receiving the program’s first installation.

The tenant’s previous toilet used 3.5 gallons per flush; his new toilet will use 0.9 gallons per flush, Jue said.

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