There comes a time in every blog that the topic of urinals must come up. Well, maybe not every blog. But certainly this one.
Today, I feel the need to give props to businesses who’ve been installing waterless urinals lately. There’s one in my local public library and I’ve seen a few more around town.
According to Wikipedia, waterless urinals save about 15,000 to 45,000 gallons of water per urinal per year. In a five-urinal restaurant, that would mean 75,000 to 225,000 gallons of water per year. Holy crap that’s a lot of water!
These urinals are also hygienic because they are touch-free. I don’t mean you could eat out of one of these things (God help you if you do), but you don’t have to push any handles to flush it. That puts it on parity with the water-flush touch-free urinals currently out there.
There’s no smell either, in case you’re wondering. How? At the bottom of the urinal is a trap that holds (or “traps”, duh) your urine. A liquid sealant then floats on top of the urine, isolating it from the outside air.
Every new technology is not without costs, however. The maintenance required is replacing the trap and sealant liquid. The traps – or cartridges, as they’re formally known – need to be replaced approximately every 6,000 to 7,000 uses. They cost anywhere from $5.00 to $40.00 each. Sealants cost $1.50 to $2.00 each. And the waterless urinals themselves can cost $400 to $600 each. Couple that with retrofit installation costs, and it can add up a bit.
But it still might be worth it. Annette Stumpf of the US Army Corps of Engineers did an evaluation of waterless urinals (PDF file) and includes some sample cost calculations in her paper. Also in her paper are links to two cost-savings worksheets, one from Waterless and another from Falcon, two manufacturers of waterless urinals.
Then there’s the intangible cost of conserving a natural resource. It’s difficult to put a dollar value to that, but it does count for a tremendous amount. Especially in areas and times of drought.
If you own a brick-and-mortar business (as us web geeks call it; you probably just call it a “store”), consider switching to waterless urinals. Not only could they be a good cost-savings investment, but they could also be good for your local environment and the future of your children’s children.
And with all this talk of urinals, how can I leave off without pointing out some important urinal rules: