Conserving Water Many Times a Day

Low-Flow Toilets have Water-Saving Super Powers

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This segment is part of the Engineers of the New Millennium: The Global Water Challenge Special Report.

Transcript: A High-Tech Take on Toilets

Willie D. Jones: Hey—got a minute? I need to talk to you about…this:

[sound of toilet]

Willie D. Jones: You know what that sound is. But perhaps it’s time you think about [sound of toilet] in a new way. See, no aerosol spray can mask what you’re doing to the environment—the one beyond your bathroom—each time you pull that little silver handle.

Stephanie Tanner: A family of four uses about 80 gallons of water a day to flush older, inefficient toilets. If they replaced these toilets with new WaterSense-labeled toilets, they could save about 16 000 gallons of water a year.

Willie D. Jones: Stephanie Tanner is head of product development for the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, which aims to save water wherever it can find it.

Willie D. Jones: So, what if everybody got one of these newfangled low-flow toilets?

Stephanie Tanner: We could save nearly 640 billion gallons of water a year. And that’s equivalent to 15 days’ worth of flow over Niagara Falls.

Willie D. Jones: Whoa! So in other words, whenever we hear

[sound of toilet]

we should really be thinking about

[sound of waterfall]

Stephanie Tanner: That’s right.

Willie D. Jones: Well…how can we…answer nature’s call…more sustainably?

Stephanie Tanner: It’s simple. You can look for WaterSense-labeled toilets.

Willie D. Jones: And what is the source of their water-saving superpowers?

Stephanie Tanner: For example, pressure-assisted flushing uses compressed air to help move the waste.

Willie D. Jones: Oh yeah! That’s the supersuction kind, like in airplane bathrooms. Gotta love that! What else ya got?

Stephanie Tanner: Dual-flush models are equipped with two flushing levels.

Willie D. Jones: The more, uh, junior flushing level sends just under a gallon of water through the bowl and is for, you know, number one. Flushing level number two dispenses twice as much water to get rid of…well…all integers greater than one. And if you’re not in the market for a new toilet, Tanner says that by not flushing away kitchen scraps and trash, the average household can still save 1300 gallons of water a year. The bottom line on

[sound of toilet]

or should I say

[sound of waterfall]


Stephanie Tanner: The cheapest gallon of water is the one you save through efficiency.

Willie D. Jones: For Spectrum Radio, this is Willie D. Jones.