Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Decline of the American Flush

While thumbing through the February issue of Plumbing Engineer magazine, I came across an article on Low-Consumption Water Closets by R. Bruce Martin (sadly, not available online, you really should subscribe).

I think we’ve all noticed that modern American toilets do not have the flush power we remember from when we were growing up, but I hadn’t realized the magnitude of the decline until I saw this chart accompanying the article:

In 1960, the average toilet used a robust 7.5 gallons per flush. By 2005 that figure had plunged to an anemic 1.0 gallons per flush. The article attributes much of the decline to improved technology, but performance has also declined, thanks to the heavy hand of government:

“EPAct92 [Federal Energy Efficiency Act] resulted in the most massive retooling ever experienced in the U.S. plumbing fixture industry. In one swoop, 70 years of gravity-flow technology was scrapped in favor of an unproven (1.6 gpf gravity flow) concept. As one might expect, the result of all this turmoil and change was that unsatisfactorily-performing toilets were sold into the U.S. market for several years.”

I’m not in favor of unnecessarily wasting water (actually wasting the energy required to treat the water as the amount of water on Earth is a constant) but I’m also in favor of indoor plumbing. Outhouses use zero gallons per flush – is that where big brother wants us to go?


Blogger Leo Pusateri said...

You don't save much water...especially if you manufacture a lot of floaters, and three or more 1-gallon flushes are required to get those puppies down the drain...

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget nuclear weapons or illegal aliens, when I lived in Detroit the No. 1 contraband item being smuggled across the border into Michigan from Windsor, Ont., was six-gallon flush toilets. The McMansions in places like Bloomfield Hills, Northville and Grosse Point (the kind of neighborhoods that Margaret Marteen, aka Mrs. David Strom, found suitable) demanded them. I'll leave it to psycmeistr to draw the connections between "floater" and UAW shop stewards.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Ha Ha. We had high flush toilets at our house because they were *original to the house* which was built around 1960. (A three bedroom rambler on the border between W Bloomfield and Farmington Hills.) In fact my parents, who still live there resisted remodeling either one of the two bathrooms precisely because they did not want to lose their ancient but still flushious crappers.

10:15 PM  

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