Water-saving Toilets Save Billions of Gallons of Water

Try wrapping your head around the number 360 billion. Even if you started at the moment of birth and lived to be 100, you would not live long enough to count that high, even if you spent every second of your life doing nothing but counting.

That’s the number of gallons of potable water that could be saved by replacing non-efficient toilets with low-flow models. This information resulted from research completed recently by the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) and Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI).

Their Saturation Study of Non-Efficient Water Closets in Key States focused on Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia and Texas, all states that have experienced serious water shortages. The savings projected by the study (170 billion gallons of potable water yearly or 465 million gallons saved per day) could be achieved if non-efficient toilets in residential properties are replaced with water-efficient ones — defined as those using no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). This five-state savings can be extrapolated to an estimate of up to 360 billion potable gallons of water per year saved nationally.

Using the AWE/PMI study estimate of 170 billion gallons of water, these examples show how much water can be saved within residential properties located in the five states included in the study:

  • Enough water saved to take 10 billion showers– more than one for each person on the planet.
  • Enough water saved to serve the indoor home water needs of a city of 100,000 for 45 years.
  • Enough water saved to fill 250,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • Enough water saved to fill 1,000 Rose Bowls.
  • Enough water saved to equal the water that goes over Niagara Falls in 2-1/2 days.

The five states researched represent 28 percent of the national population and 47 percent of all housing units in 2015, so the report examines a large part of the residential water consumption in the United States. Toilet flushing is the largest single indoor use of water, representing 24 percent of total use in single-family homes.

We in California have just emerged from a four-year drought that was one of the worst on record, and which still persists in some areas of the state. Replacing non-efficient toilets with efficient ones is an important strategy to stretch available water supplies.

It’s also a great way to hold down your ever-rising household water bills.

The five-state water savings estimate was calculated after the research determined that more than 13 million non-efficient toilets remain installed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia and Texas residences. These 13 million toilets comprise about 21 percent of all toilets installed in these states; therefore, about 79 percent of installed residential toilets in these states are already efficient at 1.6 gpf or less.

The remaining 21 percent are mainly in homes and apartments built before the national 1992 Plumbing Products Efficiency Act mandated that newly manufactured toilets not use more than 1.6 gallons per flush. So if your home is more than 25 years old and you’ve never had your toilets replaced, you are missing out on some terrific savings.

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