Local News

New Toilets Have Condos Flush With Savings

Posted September 4, 2007

— A simple change in a local condominium complex has saved owners money and water in recent months.

Managers of Cedar Court replaced 91 toilets , most of which were installed before 1980, with new, low-flush commodes. Water use at the 50-unit complex has dropped by about 140,000 gallons a month since the change.

"Just to see how much of a difference we've actually made, it is overwhelming," manager Ann Aylward said, noting the bill to condo owners was cut in half.

The toilet swap was part of an effort to shore up leaks in the Cedar Court condos to save money. But officials with Orange Water and Sewer Authority said low-flush toilets, which use three-and-a-half gallons less than older models, are a huge water conservation move more people should consider.

"Toilet flushing is the largest single use of water at residences," said Greg Feller, public affairs administrator for OWASA, noting is usually accounts for about a quarter of water used in homes.

Feller estimated that 31,000 toilets in Chapel Hill and Carrboro aren't low-flush, meaning more than 100,000 gallons of water is wasted each day if those toilets are flushed just once.

Water conservation is OWASA's main concern during the ongoing drought, which has left its three reservoirs at about two-thirds of capacity. But Feller said homeowners can also save about $160 a year on their water bills by installing a low-flush toilet.


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  • JohnnyMalaria Sep 5, 2007

    Low-flush toilets are an unfunny joke. My house is full of them. I'd say that one gets blocked at least once a week and it is very unpleasant to unblock due to the stupid narrow design of the U-bend. It usually takes 3 or 4 extra flushes and some agitation to clear it.

    Toilets are designed to pass the "ping pong ball test" - a jug full of them are placed in the toilet and then flushed.

    Sorry, but my natural excretions aren't ping pong ball like in the slightest.

    Thankfully, the toilets in my house can easily be modified by drilling some holes in the cylindrical plastic "wall" that prevents all the water being flushed.

    I must get around to doing it - restoring the toilets to the pre-1994 full 3 - 4 gallon flush will *save* me water and much frustration. Short flushes are still possible for urination. Plus, my water comes from a well and returns to the ground via the septic system.

  • getrealpeople Sep 4, 2007

    fyi, http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/wateruse2000.html

  • oldrebel Sep 4, 2007

    LOL..the headline writer must have had a ball with this story. Too cool.

  • smitty Sep 4, 2007

    Welcome to 1985 Carrboro! It kills me how the hipster crowd would rather live in a leaky old energy inefficient house because it has 'character' and drive a prius than buy a new highly efficient house in the burbs.

  • TheBullCity Sep 4, 2007

    It doesn't save water if you have to flush it 4 times.

  • QT3.14 Sep 4, 2007

    What a "cr appy" story. (Sorry, couldn't resist)

    So seriously - what do they do with the old toilets? Do they just end up in a landfill? Is that saving the environment? Don't people just put bricks in the tank anymore?

  • djofraleigh Sep 4, 2007

    I don't see how it can save that much. It takes me all day to fill up my toilet, then one flush and away it goes.

    Seriously, how often should someone flush the toilet if one lives alone?

    Number 2, every time,

    number 2, before it can be smelled.

  • drnc Sep 4, 2007

    I installed individual water meters at my mobile home park and made the tenants apply for service and pay their own bills. You would be amazed at how conservative people become when the water is on their dime.

  • obs Sep 4, 2007

    "Toilet flushing is the largest single use of water at residences," said Greg Feller, public affairs administrator for OWASA, noting is usually accounts for about a quarter of water used in homes.

    Funny, how they were saying it was lawn watering and car washing just hours ago.