Waterfree Urinalsare a great way to reduce water consumption by 100%
California school officials are no strangers to budgetary woes. So when administrators from the Corona-Norco Unified School District in Corona, Calif., learned about their local water district’s rebate for installing Waterfree Urinals, they wanted to try the fixtures to save money.
Installing Waterfree Urinals was a logical decision for Corona-Norco, the fastest-growing school district in Southern California, for both financial and environmental reasons. Corona-Norco’s 45 elementary, middle and high schools now collectively have more than 600 Waterfree Urinals, which conserve thousands of gallons of water every day.
Before settling on fixtures from Sloan, Corona-Norco experimented with a few different styles and brands of urinals. Sloan’s solid reputation, combined with the ease of use of its Waterfree Urinals, steered Corona-Norco toward Sloan.
"We first put the urinals in high-traffic areas in the gym and foyers because they get more use," says Peter Normand, lead plumber, explaining that greater use would equate to greater savings. Soon it became apparent that men’s restrooms throughout the schools would benefit. About three years ago, existing schools began switching over to Waterfree Urinals as their respective restrooms underwent renovations or schools expanded facilities.
District officials now mandate the installation of Waterfree Urinals for men’s restrooms in all new schools. Corona-Norco even retrofits restrooms for modular, on-site facilities that it purchases.
Normand acknowledges that although water conservation and financial savings are behind district administration’s decision to install these fixtures, front-line maintenance personnel aren’t always privy to those details and have more practical, day-to-day concerns. Not surprisingly, custodians don’t want any more work than they already have, and they were concerned that the Waterfree Urinals would just create new headaches.
Vitreous china fixtures are the standard because they stand up to high-use/high-abuse school restrooms, so with that decision made, Normand and the rest of the facilities team simply have to figure out which size of Waterfree Urinals each restroom requires. Smaller models are preferred because they’re lighter, which makes them easier to install. For retrofit projects, however, some of the holes in the walls and the pipe connections are spread out, so bigger models have helped cover the holes.
What was of greater concern to custodians was the amount of time it would take to change the urinals' cartridges, which filter sediment from urine before sending the remaining liquid down the drain. Some custodians thought they would have to change cartridges every week or month, which would disrupt their routines. "Now they see that they don’t have to," Normand says.
When the first Waterfree Urinals were installed, custodians changed the cartridges every few months on a set schedule, which is what many facilities do to simplify maintenance tracking. Now custodians simply keep an eye on the cartridges and replace them on an as-needed basis, which helps schools extend usage of cartridges installed in lesser-used restrooms.
"Cartridges last about three to four months near the gym and in other high-traffic restrooms and about six months in less-trafficked areas," Normand estimates.
While a rebate may have lured Corona-Norco into giving the Waterfree Urinals a try, the long-term savings on utility costs alone pay off for facilities that install the no-flush fixtures. Therefore, schools do not have to be eligible for rebates or to be located in water-scarce regions of the country to benefit from Waterfree Urinals.