The Daily Q: Who will pay for new toilet rebates – is the city that flush?

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced last week it will launch a rebate program next year to encourage New Yorkers to replace about 800,000 toilets and replace them with basins that use significantly less water per flush. For each toilet replaced, the city will pay a $125 incentive. The city is currently seeking interest from companies that could recycle the old porcelain for new uses.

But how can the city spend all that money and still stay liquid? A previous toilet replacement program that began in the 1990s cost $345 million, according to the New York City Independent Budget Office. Fewer gallons per flush mean lower bills for water customers, and therefore less revenue for the city.

It all adds up to a very expensive proposition: an outlay of some $100 million if DEP gets the level of participation it’s hoping for.

So today we’re asking: How will the Department of Environmental Protection pay for its massive toilet trade-in?

If you have information or insights to share, write us, tweet to @thenyworld or comment below.

What we found

Angel Roman, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection, said the vouchers will be funded through revenues from water customers. For now, the city has put $75 million in its capital plan for the initiative, enough to cover 600,000 toilet rebates.

What’s not certain yet is whether the old toilets themselves will be a source of income – sold, instead of given away for free. Roman says it will depend on the proposals it receives from companies interested in recycling the porcelain into new products. In its previous toilet rebate program, the city did neither, and simply threw the toilets into landfill.

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