Dual Flush Toilets PDF Print

Before we discuss the concept of a dual flush toilet, let’s address the growing concern in our country for a plentiful and pure water supply.  The cost of water to the average consumer is not a large part of our budget.  Water at this point seems abundant and does not cross our minds very often.  What we may not realize is that our underground water supply or aquifer is rapidly deteriorating.  

An aquifer is “a body of saturated rock through which water can easily move” (Digital Atlas).  In the Midwest, where I live, the Ogallala aquifer feeds much of the farmland in Kansas and Nebraska and some of the farmland in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming.  The Ogallala Aquifer has an average saturated thickness of 200 feet.  Since irrigation began on a larger scale in the 1940’s, it has declined more than 100 feet in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.  More efficient means of irrigation have reduced the rate of decline in the past 20 years but it is still going down at a rate of 2.7 feet per year (Water Encyclopedia).  We continue to irrigate farmland in areas that do not receive sufficient rainfall and are therefore withdrawing from a bank that is running out of funds.  Areas such as New Mexico and Texas that do not receive hardly any rainfall have been irrigating for years but contribute little in the replenishing of the aquifer.

A recent article discussing the problem with the depletion of aquifers can be found at (Reuters - Aquifer)

At our current rate of consumption, we will reach a state of drought and possible depletion in our water reserves.  At some point, water may become more valuable than even the gas to run our cars.  Our responsibility to the next generation is to derive new ways to reduce our consumption before we reach a point of no return.  Remember, we can live without fuel, but we cannot survive without water.

The concept of the dual flush toilet is simple but effective in helping to achieve the goal of reduced water consumption.  Through several types of levers or button mechanisms, the amount of water used for a flush can be controlled.  One lever will deliver a flush of approximately .8 gpf (gallons per flush) for cleansing liquid waste from the bowl while a second lever will deliver a flush of approximately 1.6 gpf for the cleansing of solid waste from the bowl.

The opportunity to save water using this system is tremendous.  The average household of 4 can save as much as 12,000 gallons per year in water usage over high volume (3.9 gpf) toilets and 6,000 gallons per year over conventional (1.6 gpf) toilets.  Since toilets (30%) are the second highest water usage in the house after showers (35%), this 20%+ savings on water goes a long way to decreasing the water usage in a home (Two Flush).  If we employ this simple practice, we can greatly reduce our extraction water from the aquifer and help to reverse the harmful effects of our wasteful practices of the past.  The great thing about the dual flush system is that it does not deprive us of anything.  It only reduces the water when we select the lighter volume flush. We can still use a full flush when there is a large amount of waste so that there is not a problem with clogs.

Now that we understand the idea and need for a dual flush system, let’s address the next problem.  For those building new homes, the purchase of dual flush toilets is a simple substitution.  For the majority of us living in existing homes that use conventional high flow toilets, we need to address the problem in another way.  If an integral part of “Green” is to reduce the waste of materials, then throwing away all of our old toilets and replacing them with new ones would defeat the purpose.  I have an alternative method to propose that can use our existing toilets but modify them for the new dual flush system.

I purchased a system from Aquanotion Ltd. that fits on my existing toilets.  The price with shipping for one toilet was less than $65.  It was relatively easy to install and has performed admirably. I recommend that you try this or a comparable system in one of your toilets and begin your quest to help save our limited supply of this vital resource.  Step out and try one of these at your home and let me know your results.  You will be on your way to a darker “Shade of Green”.


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