In many areas of the United States, water is not only in short supply, but becoming a chronic problem. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at least 36 states have experienced or can anticipate some type of local, regional, or even statewide water shortage this year and into at least the first half of next year. Water issues and shortages are already having a significant impact on both consumers and commercial facilities such as office buildings.
First and foremost, water is getting more and more expensive. In Chicago and neighboring communities that depend on the city for their water supply, a 25 percent rate increase took effect January 1, 2012. The rate went up again in 2013 by 15 percent, and will increase again in 2014. That’s a 55 percent rate increase over a three-year period. Even though American municipalities have traditionally underpriced water, a 55 percent rate increase in such a short amount of time is an indication that a serious problem exists—with no resolution in sight.
A May 2013 survey found that 41 percent of men would use a private women’s restroom if the private men’s restroom were occupied.
However, a larger number, 54 percent of women, said they would use a men’s restroom if the situation were reversed.
These are two of the findings of a survey conducted by AlturaSolutions Communications, a Chicago-based marketing and communications firm, for Waterless Co., a leading manufacturer of no-water urinals.
While hardly a standard feature in today’s homes, the installation of urinals in private residences has “absolutely grown in popularity” over the past five years, said Travis Rotelli, a senior interior designer with a restroom manufacturer. No one is counting numbers here but even AARP agrees that urinals make perfect sense for retirees hoping to age in place.
Upon entering the so-called Green restrooms of the future, one of the first things noticed are the wall and
floor tiles. These are made from predominantly recycled glass, tile, porcelain, and ceramic materials. They are proving to be durable, resilient, easy to clean, and low maintenance.
“Of interest, the restrooms are equipped with both hand towels— using only recycled paper, of course—and electric hand dryers,” Klaus Reichardt, founder and managing partner of Waterless Company LLC. “The electric hand dryers are sensor activated, minimizing the touchpoints in the restrooms that can possibly spread disease, and use considerably less energy than many conventional dryers.”
Vista, CA – With at least nine urban areas of the United States now experiencing “exceptional drought” conditions, some business owners and facility managers may wonder what would happen if an actual emergency water situation materializes.
While there are no universal ground rules, according to Klaus Reichardt, CEO and founder of Waterless Co., maker of no-water urinal systems, what can be expected includes the following:
The governor of the state declares a water emergency.
Bans are typically imposed on the watering of lawns and landscape vegetation. Irrigation using watering cans may be allowed.
Non-commercial car washes must cease operation.
Businesses that use water for their operations, such as commercial car washes, laundries, etc., are not immediately affected, but restrictions may be imposed.
Water used for cleaning of exterior areas, such as sidewalks and walkways, and pressure cleaning must cease.
Water limits, typically based on how many people use the facility, are imposed on commercial facilities, such as offices and schools.
Water limits, typically based on how many people live in the residence, are imposed on homes and apartments.
All commercial and non-commercial facilities are urged or may even be required to replace older water using fixtures with newer, more water efficient systems.
Many facilities close their public restrooms to conserve water.
Water limits and restrictions are imposed on golf courses and plant nurseries.
State and local police departments enforce the new restrictions. Penalties, including criminal penalties of several months in jail, and fines of several hundred to several thousand dollars are imposed.*
“One good thing that often happens in a water emergency is [that] we learn not only how to conserve water, but also [to] use it far more efficiently,” says Reichardt. “After the 1976-1977 water emergency in California, many lessons were learned-lessons that have helped California use water more efficiently ever since.”
*As mentioned, these and other water restrictions may or may not be imposed in a water emergency.
Move over, alkaline and lithium—the urine-powered battery is on its way, according to British researchers.
A research team led by the University of Bristol in conjunction with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and the University of West England was able to power a number of electronic devices with urine, including a Samsung phone to send text messages, make brief phone calls, and even browse the web.
According to the study published in Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. The phone was under urine-power for 24 hours and used approximately 17 ounces of urine.