The Greenwash Brigade

It doesn’t take a porta-potty!

Jim Nicolow Feb 15, 2008

Nancy Marshall-Genzer photo

My ears perked up when the Marketplace Morning Report ran a story this morning about the tri-state water wars and what people were doing to reduce their water use. I’m a bit of a water efficiency nut, and I feel like the issue is generally under-reported in the mass media. And unlike energy efficiency, which can be pretty complicated, water efficiency is easy.

So I was excited by the possibility that the story would identify some of the many state-of-the-shelf water efficiency measures that are available. Instead, they talked about a dental clinic in Athens that was using port-a-potties to reduce water use! While I can appreciate the intent, and the clinic is to be commended for trying to be more responsible, come on! Why not run a story with examples of all the new efficient and ultra-efficient plumbing fixtures that can yield significant water savings without the ick factor?

Waterless urinals use no water, utilize conventional plumbing waste lines, and have become ‘standard’ on many campuses, such as Arizona State University and Harvard. Dual-flush toilets allow you to select a ‘half-flush’ option for liquid waste. Sloan even makes an automatic dual-flush flush valve that decides how much water to use based upon the duration of your ‘visit’. Simple low-flow aerators on faucets can significantly reduce water use. And all can be incorporated in a retrofit, as they utilize conventional plumbing.

In my experience, these three simple strategies in combination can cut restroom water use in half, without resorting to sticking port-a-potties outside your office. That’s just gross.

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