Remember when you were an elementary school student and your favorite thing to do was run into the school restroom and flush all the urinals one after another, just to see the waterfall? OK, maybe that was just my childhood memory, but it brings up a good point. After spending four years as an environmental studies major, traversing from department to department, enjoying free coffee in the Multicultural Center and free movies at Kerr Hall, the most important places to me on campus are our restrooms. I have a specific one picked out on the sixth floor of Davidson Library, and my second favorite is on the bottom floor of the UCen. However, our new waterless urinals have made me rethink my favorite places to pee. UC Santa Barbara’s new waterless urinals save me from unfriendly bacteria and the smells normally arising from going into the wrong bathroom. It is on behalf of those with large noses – like myself – that think all males should enjoy hands-free operation on every urinal.
UC Santa Barbara’s waterless urinals are making a splash with their long-term water savings. Recently, the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management succeeded in making urine go down the right drain. Perrin Pellegrin, UCSB Campus Sustainability Manager and early adopter of water urinal technology, has made big changes in the price of UCSB’s sewage. With the new pilot program up and running, many male students and faculty may now free themselves from the fear of “splash-back.”
The numbers speak for themselves – sewage costs are reduced by $30 from the old system of urinals while total water usage is cut by 66 percent. Although final estimates have not been fully calculated, waterless urinals cost less than motion sensor urinals and are easier to maintain. And even though initial costs are equal to the flush urinals, waterless urinals plan to save UCSB an estimated $114 dollars per toilet – as determined by the program’s implementation throughout Girvetz Hall. The people at Waterless.com, one of the largest providers of waterless urinals, estimate a return on their initial investment within three years of service.
What are the real benefits of waterless urinals? Other than being ecologically more sustainable, the waterless urinals are more hygienic than touch-and-flush urinals. Waterless urinals are also more bacteria-resistant, as bacteria propagate more easily in water. These urinals also decrease urine odor and vandalism in restrooms while eliminating the need for those smelly ice chunks at the bottom of the urinal.
How do they work? Waterless urinals use a fine film inserted inside the urinals that are practically frictionless, allowing for no urine stains or odors. After going down the tube, urine is caught in the patented EcoTrap that holds the urine from coming in contact with nasty sewer gases. Meanwhile BlueSeal liquid blocks the urine odor from returning into the restroom. EcoTraps are recyclable, while the BlueSeal liquid is biodegradable.
Every use of waterless urinals saves approximately 1.5-3 gallons of water. With the support of a recent $10,242 grant from The Green Initiative Fund, Campbell Hall and North Hall are soon to have nine new waterless urinals. Support for additional waterless urinals could be attained outside of TGIF. The university should also initiate a policy in which all new buildings use waterless urinals instead of the flush urinals.
Now it is up to every guy to reason with their pants and attempt to hold off that slippery stream until you can haul yourself over to Campbell, North and Girvetz Halls. The next step is to make sure all new buildings on campus use waterless urinals instead of regular flush urinals. The costs of installation are comparable and the units begin paying for themselves right away.