Pissing Match: Wired On The Battle Over Waterless Urinals


Falcon Water-Free Urinal

In February we wrote What is the Cause of "Stinky Situation" With Waterless Urinals?, covering the fight between the plumbers' unions and the manufacturers of waterless urinals.

Now Joshua Davis of Wired looks at the history of the waterless urinal, in Pissing Match: Is the World Ready for the Waterless Urinal?. He writes that the plumbers even claimed that waterless urinals could kill you.
Chart from Wired: Water Savings

James Krug of Falcon Waterfree Technologies, a pioneer in the industry, points out that waterless urinals don't only save water; 20% of California's electricity is used to process and pump water. Ten years ago it seemed like a good idea at the time, and an easy sell. Then Mike Massey of the plumbers unions got involved.


Plumbing codes never contemplated a urinal without water. As a result, Falcon's fixtures couldn't be installed legally in most parts of the country. Krug assumed it would be a routine matter to amend the model codes on which most state and city codes are based, but Massey and other plumbers began to argue vehemently against it. The reason the urinal hadn't changed in decades was because it worked, they argued. Urine could be dangerous, Massey said, and the urinal was not something to trifle with. As a result, in 2003 the organizations that administer the two dominant model codes in the US rejected Falcon's request to permit installation of waterless urinals. "The plumbers blindsided us," Krug says. "We didn't understand what we were up against."

In the end, the plumbers "saw the writing on the bathroom wall" and acquiesced, as long as water supplies were installed- and capped, because they weren't needed. But it isn't about preserving their work, no. Says one plumber: "It's about saving money for the building owner when they decide to pull these stinky things out."

Read the whole thing in Wired

More on Waterless Urinals in TreeHugger:

What is the Cause of "Stinky Situation" With Waterless Urinals?
No Splash, No Flush Urinals from Kohler
Pee Green: Waterless Urinals Saving 22,000 Tons of Water a Year at Nankai Electric Railway
City of Los Angeles Approves Waterless Urinals for All Buildings
Case Study for Flushless Urinals
Pee in Style and Save Water

Tags: Bathrooms

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