Widespread Use of Efficient Toilets has Major Water-Saving Potential

The five-state study by AWE and PMI concluded that 360 billion gallons of water could be saved per year nationwide if the replacement of non-efficient models can be accelerated
Widespread Use of Efficient Toilets has Major Water-Saving Potential

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Water-efficient toilets could potentially save up to 360 billion gallons of potable water per year across the country, according to new research released by the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) and Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI).

The “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 for those states — 170 billion gallons of potable water annually or 465 million gallons per day — could be achieved if non-efficient toilets in residences are replaced with water-efficient ones. This five-state savings can be extrapolated to an estimate of up to 360 billion gallons per year saved nationally.

The research produces important direction for water managers nationwide, as 40 out of 50 states anticipate water shortages in the coming years, according to a Government Accountability Office survey of state water managers published in 2013, with most of these states already experiencing periodic shortages. 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.

“This study affirms the important and sometimes overlooked role that water-efficient plumbing products and programs such as the EPA WaterSense label play in ensuring water sustainability for our nation,” says Mary Ann Dickinson, AWE president and CEO. “We are nowhere near the potential of water savings we can achieve through water efficiency.”

Barbara C. Higgens, PMI CEO/executive director, says plumbing manufacturers are proud of the water-saving innovations they have brought to the marketplace.

“Great water-efficiency innovations have already been made and are readily available. Now it’s time for consumers and businesses to do their part to replace non-efficient toilets, showerheads and faucets with water-efficient ones,” she says.

The study defined non-efficient toilets as those using more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf), and determined that more than 13 million such toilets remain installed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia and Texas residences. These 13 million toilets comprise about 21 percent of all toilets installed in those states.

At the current 4 percent annual toilet replacement rate, the potential savings illustrated in the study will not occur for another 15 to 30 years unless replacement programs are accelerated.

The study’s results also merit consideration within the current federal and state regulatory environment. At the federal level, proposed cost cutting at the EPA threatens the WaterSense program, a voluntary public-private partnership initiative to encourage the use of water-efficient toilets, showerheads, faucets and other plumbing products. Through the use of the more than 16,000 WaterSense product models on the market, the nation has already saved more than 1 trillion gallons of water over the past 10 years.

About the Alliance for Water Efficiency
The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) is a North American 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the sustainable and efficient use of water. Based in Chicago, AWE works with nearly 400 water utilities, water conservation professionals in business and industry, planners, regulators, and consumers. As the leading voice for water efficiency, AWE’s platform brings together innovative technical resources to facilitate adoption of water conservation programs, cutting-edge research to address pressing challenges, and a collaborative dialogue amongst stakeholders to further adoption of water conservation programs. For more information, visit www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org.

About Plumbing Manufacturers International
Plumbing Manufacturers International is the voluntary, not-for-profit international industry association of manufacturers of plumbing products. Member companies produce 90 percent of the nation’s plumbing products. As part of its mission, PMI advocates for plumbing product performance and innovation contributing to water savings, sustainability, public health and safety, and consumer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.safeplumbing.org.


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