According to recent weather data, approximately 34 percent of the U.S. is in at least a moderate drought, and California is in one of the most severe droughts in the state’s history. It’s common knowledge that water conservation is important, however some businesses are still worried about the “cost” of going green, and in a world of ever-shrinking margins, when this pay-off will happen.
Today, major cities across the U.S. are starting to stand up and take notice. Waterfree and high-efficiency fixtures are an easy tool in this fight to conserve water, especially since city water utilities have been implementing rebate programs designed to cover the cost of updating to waterfree and water efficient units.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission have been leading this charge, offering businesses in two of California’s largest cities up to $500 for the purchase and installation of each waterfree urinal and water efficient toilet. The potential impact of these programs is exponential as updating just one traditional flush urinal to a waterfree urinal can save up to 40,000 gallons of water per year alone.
With no valves or moving parts — only a drain and specialty cartridge — waterfree urinals are less expensive to purchase and install and lead to lower operating and maintenance costs than traditional urinals. For new construction, installing a waterfree urinal is an easy process and can be done in as little as an hour, meaning minimal downtime and immediate water savings. Additional waterfree benefits include the reduction of energy and greenhouse gases that are related to the daily operations of a traditional flush fixture.
Many Los Angeles landmark buildings have already made the switch — including The Hollywood Bowl, Staples Center and The Forum — and are seeing direct results. With a shorter operating schedule, The Hollywood Bowl saves on average 3.6 million gallons of water a year but the always-in-use Staples Center restrooms save 7 million gallons of water a year with the addition bonus of $2,300 a month water bill savings.
In the past, there has been a concern that waterfree urinals are less hygienic and sanitary than traditional urinals. However, advances in waterfree technology, specifically in urinal cartridges, have eradicated these concerns. Modern cartridges provide bathrooms with an odor-free, hygienic operation with easy maintenance, acting as a trap for uric sediment, which could otherwise contribute to drainpipe clogs. The touch-free system virtually eliminates the spread of bacteria by abolishing cross-contamination and any risk of restroom flooding due to urinal malfunction. The only maintenance required is a routine change of a waterfree cartridge two to four times per year depending on use.
The waterfree urinal and high-efficiency fixture movement continues to develop and improve in the market as business owners recognize its benefits and environmental impact. By switching to water conserving devices, businesses can automatically save water without even thinking bout it. It’s an easy update, with a major impact.
Steve Nuskiewicz is the senior vice president of National Sales for Falcon Waterfree Technologies, a urinal system provider. Founded in 2000, Falcon manufactures and markets advanced water-free urinal technology for commercial, institutional and government facilities. To date, the company has saved over 10 billion gallons of water. With new technology, one waterless urinal can save up to an average of 40,000 gallons of much needed water each year.