Aggressive water-conservation efforts and industry interest in sustainable design continue to push manufacturers to develop even more environmentally sensitive plumbing fixtures. Perhaps the most extreme example is the waterless urinal.
Although some building team professionals write off the waterless urinal as novelty technology, one manufacturer marketing waterless urinals for commercial applications, Waterless Co. of Del Mar, Calif., contends that its product is legitimate and points to dozens of installations across the nation to prove so.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Barstow, Calif., for instance, has installed more than 300 waterless urinals that save an estimated 13 million gallons of water annually, or $52,000 in water and sewage costs. Other installations include the San Dieguito Union High School District in San Diego and University of Arizona's Arizona Stadium in Tucson.
According to the company, each urinal saves an average 45,000 gallons of water annually and has an operating cost of just $1 per 1,000 uses.
The fixtures incorporate a special drain insert containing about 3 ounces of odor-blocking liquid, which has a lower specific gravity than the liquid waste, allowing the waste to pass through while keeping a constant seal. The waste then overflows into the central tube and runs down into the conventional drain line.