Conserving water starts at the toilet

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - We are all familiar with the sound of a flushing toilet, but few respect like Jay Campbell. Toilets and other fixtures are his business.

Since the 70's, Campbell followed several state orders to replace older toilets with new and improved high-efficiency toilets. "Back in the '70's we went to 3.5 gallons. In the early '90's we went to 1.5 gallons and now we're going to 1.28," Campbell explained.

By 2014 when you go to your neighborhood supplier that's all you will be able to buy. Right now the newer models are in low supply and more expensive than standard models.

Fitting your home with a new water conservation toilet is one thing, but imagine you are responsible for hundreds of toilets, like municipalities and schools.

For example, SFA is tearing down an outdated dorm full of water consuming fixtures. A newer dorm goes in its place. Campbell has already started pitching, "waterless urinals." design engineers stay busy staying on the cutting edge of efficient models.

The average household uses 100 gallons of water a day. Thirty percent of it comes from the toilet. "If all the toilets in the U.S. Were to be changed to low consumption, we could save 640 billion of gallons a year," Campbell said, quoting from statistics provided to him by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Outside the water closet are the Texas Regional Water Planning groups. They make sure there's enough water for agriculture, industry and the environment in a diverse state. "What might work in West Texas or semi desert region will not work here in East Texas where we require large amounts of water to maintain our ecosystem," George Campbell, a member of the board said.

He is concerned about mandates that may not be affordable to individuals to governments. "There's always some degree of unfairness because not everyone can afford the changes."

Environmental groups released a report this week evaluating 19 cities around the state. It recommended changing utility pricing structure to reward conservation, restrict outdoor watering, offer local rebate programs for replacing fixtures and appliances and more public education.

Tyler was one city reviewed. The evaluation praised the city for a having a strong 10 year reduction plan, but noted there was not a clear way to achieve the goal in place. For example, the city doesn't have a water restriction plan or a retrofit plan.

The overall goal is to encourage individuals and governments to conserve water, rather than letting it go down the drain without even a thought.

Aside from replacing fixtures, homeowners are encouraged to fix leaks. March is designated as "Fix A Leak" month. Trillions of gallons of water is wasted each year through leaks.

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