Waterless Urinals Eliminate Problems and Save Money
by Robert Kravitz
Most school districts considering installing waterless urinal systems do so for two main reasons: to save water, an obvious benefit, and, what may not be so obvious, to eliminate restroom vandalism.
For some reason, junior high and high school boys in particular find the plumbing connections, push valves, and other plumbing components of a conventional urinal enticing targets to mangle or destroy.
Bob Wolk, head of the Carlsbad, California, Unified School District, was contending with both vandalism and a desire to save water when he decided it was time to install, or at least try, waterless urinal systems.
First seen at a California State Fair, Wolk installed just three waterless systems, manufactured by
urinals. Although the units look just like a conventional urinal, they have none of the top-mounted plumbing connections found on a typical urinal. “Vandalism was eliminated,” he says, “because there simply was nothing to damage.”
It is believed this is saving the school district as much as $120 per year per urinal in repair costs. With this issue addressed, Wolk had about 40 more waterless urinal systems installed.
The way these urinals work is as simple as they are effective:
· Gravity drains the urine into a vertical trap cylinder that sits atop the drain area.
· The trap cylinder is filled with a small amount of sealant. Together, the trap and sealant prevent odors from escaping.
· Urine is temporarily stored in the trap cylinder but, with use, eventually flows into a drainpipe connected to the urinal, similar to a conventional urinal.
The water savings can be significant. The average urinal uses about 40,000 gallons of potable water per year. With more than 40 of these units installed, the district is saving nearly a million gallons of water annually. This savings amounts to more than $145 annually per urinal—as much as $5,800.
The urinals are cleaned the same way as a conventional urinal; however, mild nonabrasive cleaners are recommended, and the trap cylinder does have to be replaced. In the models selected by this school district, the recyclable trap inserts are replaced twice per year, costing about $13 per urinal. With other designs of waterless systems, the costs of the cylinders and how often they need to be changed can vary.
“At first the waterless urinals were not that well received,” says Wolk. “Some males were not sure how to use them and others were concerned about odors. However, odor is not an issue and today the urinals are well accepted. And, we estimate each one is savings us about $265 per year, money that can be better used for education instead of wasting water.”
Kravitz is a communications professional working with building and professional
cleaning organizations. He may be reached at email@example.com.