The Thruth About Low-Flow Toilets… What a Crapper!

San Francisco’s big pushes for low-flow toilets have turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink in 2011.

Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission.  That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months.

The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem.

That Stink is hydrogen sulfide– which volatilizes within the sewer lines and is acted upon by bacteria forming sulfuric acid. This acid then drip down the walls of the sewer eventually causing them to collapse and voila, huge expense.

Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite – better known as bleach – to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

That translates into 8.5 million pounds of bleach either being poured down city drains or into the drinking water supply every year.


In 1992 President George H. W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act. This law made 1.6 gallons per flush toilets standard.  This law went into effect in Jan 1, 1994 for residential buildings and Jan 1, 1997 for commercial building where it can’t consume more than 1.6 gallons per flush.

Compare that to commodes manufactured in the 1980s that used 3.5 gallons, or toilets from the 1970s that sent 5 to 7 gallons rushing through the bowl.

The 1.6-gallon toilet doesn’t have enough push and sediment collects in metal pipes and sewers. That hastens the corrosion problem and affects cost, especially in older homes.

Sewer lines back up with sludge and stink.  Additional resources are being spent to fix backed up lines that were meant to handle 6-7 gallons per flush not 1.6 gallons.  Cities are slowly waking up to the fact that their waste lines cannot process the waste like they were designed and will have to replace millions of miles of sewer pipe.  At a cost to the folks that live in those cities.  All to save a gallon or two of water.

The Truth

Any given study will show that the low flow toilets have to be flushed more than once to clear the bowl.  Some studies show 2 out of ten flushed needs a second flush and homeowners hold the handle down to let extra water run in the bowl.

A study conducted on 1116 homeowners measured the amount of water used to flush the low flow toilets and instead of the 1.6 gallons per flush; it totaled 2.6 after a three month test.

Many older sewer pipes are smaller in diameter and need a large flow of water to clear them out, so older homes have repair issues due to sludge backing up.

In modern subdivision planning, only 1.6 gallons of water per flush can be calculated in determining how much water will be used and the size of the water and sewer lines installed.  As soon as the subdivision is sold out, the water usage is always higher than budgeted therefore causing water pressure issues down the line.  Every planner knows this, but by law cannot allot for this in planning for water and sewer transport.  I know this for a fact because I built a subdivision myself.

So has the low flow movement really saved water? At the household level… yes, but at what cost? Homeowners and cities are forking out millions of dollars to dig up sewer lines to fix and replace and sewage treatment plants have to douse the sludge with toxic chemicals just to be able to release the refuse back into the waterways.

City planners find they cannot get enough water pressure to support firemen in the outlying areas, and environmentalists are complaining about the chemicals being used to treat the sludge.

I say go back to the three gallon flush and solve the problem!

Paul Smith

Delegate to the Republican Party

Former Candidate for Congress 2008-2010

Taking our Government back, one day at a time!


Short URL: http://www.smithheggumreport.com/?p=2734

Posted by on Feb 17 2012. Filed under Current, International, Paul Smith, Political, United States. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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