Canadian Consulting Engineer

Drought-beset cities turning to waterless urinals, desalination plants

July 21, 2015

Vancouver, the rainy city, is suffering drought and on Stage 2 water restrictions, forbidding lawn sprinklering and private carwashing. Following very little snow this winter and a hot May and June, the reservoirs that supply the city with water are at only 69% capacity.

But things are much worse in California. Faced with severe ongoing drought for a fourth year, the state is now paying $500 to any business that buys and installs a waterless urinal.

Waterless Co., a manufacturer of the technology, is pleased, pointing out: “One water-using urinal uses about 100 gallons of water per day [in] a typical office building. If a facilty has three of these urinals, that’s 300 gallons of water each and every day that can be saved.”

Meanwhile, Californians are turning to the ocean for solutions. A private developer, Poseidon, is constructing a $1-billion desalination plant at a power station in Carlsbad outside San Diego. The plant, due to be complete by the end of this year, will process 50 million gallons of seawater per day, converting the salt water through reverse osmosis into potable drinking water.


According to an article in the Toronto Star, state officials are currently evaluating more than a dozen similar proposals along the coast, from San Francisco down to the Mexican border.


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