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Council To Ponder New Toilet Measure

By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
       Albuquerque city councilors want a few more numbers before they take the plunge with low-flow toilets.
    They postponed action late Monday on a proposal that would require the city to replace its high-flow plumbing fixtures with low-water models by the end of the year. The proposed ordinance, sponsored by Michael Cadigan, is now scheduled for consideration later this month.
    Several councilors said they liked the idea but wanted to know whether it's feasible to change out thousands of toilets in less than a year — not to mention finding the money to pay for it.
    They asked the administration to find to some answers and be ready in about two weeks.
    Cadigan said he was open to giving the city more time to complete the transition. But he said it was important to pass the bill because residents will have to make a similar move.
    An ordinance set to take full effect in 2010 will require private residents to change out their toilets before selling their property.
    "It's not right to ask residents to do it until we do it," Cadigan said.
    Ed Adams, the top executive under Mayor Martin Chávez, said it could cost about $3 million to replace thousands of city fixtures. He didn't say whether the figure included the possibility of getting rebates from the local water authority, which offers water-bill credits to customers who change their toilets this year.
    It's not even clear how many toilets and other fixtures would covered by the bill, he said. One department estimated it maintains about 2,580 fixtures, but there may be others not included in that total, Adams said.
    About $1.2 million for the effort is planned in city bond issues over the next six years, he said. Some buildings already have new toilets, he said, as the city has a policy of changing them when it can.
    Low-flow toilets typically cut water use from 5 gallons per flush to about 1.6 gallons. No one at Monday's meeting offered an estimate of how many gallons altogether the city would save by upgrading its toilets and other fixtures.
    Adams told councilors on Monday that the city recently installed new toilets at City Hall.

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