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Wasted Water Resources

April 13, 2002

I agree with The Times' support of legislation for greater water conservation measures ("Flushing Away a Resource," editorial, April 8). Assemblywoman Fran Pavley's bill, AB 2734, will help conserve hundreds of thousands of gallons in water-deficient Southern California by expanding the very successful low-flow toilet retrofit program.

In West Hollywood, we are testing a new waterless-urinal technology that can save up to 40,000 gallons of water per urinal annually. These urinals are no more expensive than standard urinals, and they cost less to maintain since there are no moving parts or complicated plumbing. The technology is odor-free, and West Hollywood's test, now several months underway, has thus far been a success. Waterless urinals may be a prudent next step to water conservation in this drought-prone region.

Jeffrey Prang

City Council, West Hollywood

*

Your editorial extols the benefit of low-flow toilets, which have been required for all new toilets since 1992. While the low flow is a noble gesture, how many readers find, as my family does, that one actually uses more water with a low-flow toilet because one must flush it several times to achieve the desired effect? I wonder if the unintended consequence of mandating low-flow toilets is increased water consumption.

Robin Franck

Coronado

*

While your editorial was swimming in facts and figures, it only stayed in the shallow end of analysis. It's true that water is a critical resource in our state and even scarcer in other parts of the world. When looked at from your perspective, we all can certainly do our part to conserve what Yeats called "the generated soul." It obviously should not be wasted. But research beyond the wading pool would've shown that residential use accounts for only about 5% of water consumption in California. The rest is applied to very thirsty agricultural, industrial and commercial purposes.

Further, you didn't mention other options in the pipeline, such as more economical desalination and more palatable water recycling technologies (the infelicitously monikered "toilet-to-tap" project notwithstanding). And finally, though a water shortage is not something to take sitting down, the low-flow toilet is not likely to be the solution. Sometimes the low-flow model needs two flushes to get the job done, defeating its purpose.

Tim Bradley

Altadena

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