What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 8, 2010

The Straight Poop

From the editorial page of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
A particularly sobering thought comes from The Weekly Standard: "(W)hen federal law governs the way we flush toilets and take a shower -- and threatens punishment for defiance -- there is good reason to worry about the next particle of freedom on the progressive hit list." Sigh.
A little googling brings us to this "Scrapbook" article in the weekly standard, though that piece is more about showerheads than toilets. But had Scaife's braintrust actually read the thing c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y they would have spared themselves the embarrassment of a brief history (or arithmetic) lesson.

First the Trib:
Of course, the move (nearly a decade ago) to toilets that allow only 1.6 gallons per flush...[emphasis added]
And now The Weekly Standard:
Unless, of course, you find yourself in your bathroom, and look around. Over there is the federally mandated toilet which, in compliance with the Energy Policy Act (1992), flushes—or attempts to flush—its meager supply of 1.6 gallons of water. [emphasis added]
Do I really need to remind my good friends at The Trib that it's 2010? And that 1992 is a little more than "nearly a decade ago"? Even if you take into account when the law went into effect (1994) that still doesn't wipe away the stain of them getting something so simple (addition and/or subtraction) so wrong.


But beyond that, what about the rest of the The Trib's paragraph? They say that the standards limiting flushes to 1.6 gallons:
[H]ave had the expected (to thinking people only) unintended consequences: Many folks end up using more water, not less. Double flushing often is required to get the job done (ahem) and longer showers are required to wash away soap and shampoo. Don't you just love the moronism of do-gooding?
But is this actually true?

Not according to American Standard. This press release from 2004 (And Trib-guys? that would be about 6 years ago) is titled:
10 Years After Low-Flow Toilet Regulations Went Into Effect, Plumbing Innovations Make Major Inroads in Efficiency, Flushability
And it says:
Ten years after the nation’s low-flow toilet regulations went into effect, the U.S. is saving more water every day, with the potential to save billions of gallons more in the next decade and beyond. And while toilet manufacturers continue to develop new technologies that make low-flow toilets more efficient, they also are fast increasing customer satisfaction.
And they give a little history lesson:
In an effort to save water and increase efficiency in municipal wastewater systems, the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) was signed into law. Prior to this law, U.S. consumers were happy with their water-guzzling toilets, yet these fixtures were among the most water-consuming appliances in many homes, using anywhere from 3.5 gallons to 5 gallons per flush. In 1994, EPAct went into effect, requiring that all residential toilets be manufactured using the 1.6-gallons-per-flush standard.

Early on, toilets underwent considerable changes. While the majority of toilets worked well and did save water, some consumers were not satisfied with the performance of these new toilets. Driven by anecdotal complaints that household toilets simply didn’t work, some lawmakers even urged repeal of the federal law, albeit unsuccessfully. What consumers were saying was that they wanted to be 100 percent confident that their toilets would get the job done in one flush, every time. Manufacturers listened and continued to strive for improvements, and today the worry-free 1.6-gallon toilet is becoming a reality.
Safeplumbing.org has more:
Indeed, there were problems with some toilets sold in the early-to-mid-1990s. Consumers complained about having to flush twice to clean the bowl, bringing water usage back up to 3.2 gpf; clogs created messes, as well as waste; and small water spots that made it harder to keep the toilet bowl clean and sanitary.

The objective of the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 1992 was water conservation, but the objective of plumbing manufacturers was water efficiency. Fortunately, it didn't take long for the technology to catch up, and by May of 1998 a well-known consumer ratings publication found "several affordable low-flow toilets that work very well."

High-performance flushers hit the market earlier in this millennium. Using advanced hydraulic modeling techniques, engineers literally changed the way water moves through the channels of the toilet to eliminate waste. Newer finishes fired into the chinaware give more power to less water, actually improving bowl-cleansing ability over the old 3.5 gpf gushers.
So no, Taint true. The Trib would be wrong on the double flushing of the toilets. Indeed it's a story of an industry becoming more efficient and its products more beneficial to the public because of a piece of legislation. And wasn't that what that legislation was all about anyway?

Even when they're talking shit, they can't seem to get it right.


EdHeath said...

OK, just to gross everybody out and make the issue more complicated, the two types of human waste (and solid waste from animals) can be used as fertilizer. Since current commercial fertilizer uses petroleum inputs, it might be nice to have a truly "natural alternative". I gather urine needs to be used quickly after it is produced or it turns into ammonia, and it should not be used if you have a urinary tract infection. It certainly seems like something that could be used on plants close to your home. Feces, on the other hand, should probably be kept for some time. I remember reading about an organization in Haiti that was keeping human feces for a year or more to be used as a fertilizer. By they way, adding water and toilet paper to the mix of things in the pot, or even just putting urine and feces together, basically screws up the whole thing.

Obviously doing all this would make going to the bathroom much more complicated, and turn our toilets into multi-compartmental contraptions (pee in one tube, poo in another, and have a bidet pot to finish with, ewww). It might be worth looking at if the government and private groups would be willing to help with the distribution. Certainly would give other countries fuel for jokes about us.

Heir to the Throne said...

Strawman Time.
The Trib got the math wrong so it is as if the Government/Democrats never regulated the about of water in a toilet.
DADT is that old why do you want to change it?
I am thankful that my toilet is an old 3.2 gpf I am sure Dayvoe/Ed wish a SWAT team would show up at my house and destroy the earth killing device.

Dayvoe said...


Thank you for your aptly titled strawman argument.

EdHeath said...

Trying to persuade anyone who doesn't already agree with you, HTTT?

Are you trying to prove to liberals that conservatives have no ideas?

Just because two policies came into being around the same time does not mean they have anything (else) in common.

You might want to ask people out west if they think water conservation is big joke to them.

Anonymous said...

Toilets account for approx. 30% of water used indoors. By installing a Dual Flush toilet you can save approx. 40% of water being flushed down the toilet, compared to a standard, modern 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush) model. If your toilet has been installed prior to 1994, you are using 3.5 gallons or more each single flush. The water savings you can achieve by upgrading to a Dual Flush toilet are substantial. By reducing your water usage, you are also reducing the cost of your water bill!!
If you are serious about saving water, want a toilet that really works and is affordable, I highly recommend installing a Caroma Dual Flush toilet. They offer a patented dual flush technology consisting of a 0.8 Gal flush for liquid waste and a 1.6 Gal flush for solids. On an average of 5 uses a day (4 liquid/ 1 solid) a Caroma Dual Flush toilet uses an average of 0.96 gallons per flush. The new Sydney Smart uses only 1.28 and 0.8 gpf, that is an average of 0.89 gallons per flush. This is the lowest water consumption of any toilet available in the US. Caroma, an Australian company set the standard by giving the world its first successful two button dual flush system in the 1980’s and has since perfected the technology. With a full 3.5″ trap way, these toilets virtually never clog. All 47 floor mounted models are on the list of WaterSense labeled HET’s (High Efficiency toilets) http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/find_het.htm and qualify for the various toilet rebate programs available in the US. Please visit my blog http://pottygirl.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/what-you-should-know-about-toilets/
to learn more or visit http://www.ecotransitions.com/howto.asp to see how we flush potatoes with 0.8 gallons of water, meant for liquids only. Best regards, Andrea Paulinelli