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Tidal Wave of Public Concern Over Water Use

February 14, 1988

The Times recently reported, in an article on water usage in Los Angeles, that 23 gallons per person per day are used to flush toilets and that another five gallons are lost to toilet leakage. The article also said that this was the largest share of the water used in the home every day, before going on to discuss other problems of our growing water crisis. What was not reported though is that there is a villain behind this crisis, a man whom many regard as a hero.

This villain is none other than Sen. William Proxmire of Wisconsin, the taxpayers' hero in Congress. Sen. Proxmire has gotten a lot of publicity over the years with his Golden Fleece award, an "award" he bestows on individuals, programs and agencies in the federal government whom he considers to be wasters of federal money. When he's most successful, Proxmire's award has been able to kill some programs with the unfavorable publicity it creates.

A few years ago there was a small federal project to develop a waterless toilet that consumed several tens of thousands of dollars in federal research funds (which could aptly be described a drop in the bucket). Sen. Proxmire, from the land of 10,000 lakes, could not imagine any use for such a device and so he killed the whole program with his award.

The water used in the L.A. area's toilets, as The Times reported, could in one year cover 146 square miles of land one foot deep. How much lower would our water bills be, how much better off would the environment be, how many fewer pipes and aqueducts and reservoirs would we have to build, if only we had that waterless toilet? The pinched provincialism of Sen. Proxmire is a burden on us all.

DAVID L. PLEGER

Los Angeles

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