Weekly Water Report: Waterless toilet

Texas company markets waterless toilet

SAN ANTONIO – As water becomes scarce in Texas, it is forcing a need to flush out new ideas to save water, or, in some cases, for technology to become flush-free.

"It's truly environmentally friendly. There's no water being used here," said Jaynellen Ladd, a natural resource specialist for the Blanco-Guadalupe River Authority at Canyon Lake Gorge.

Ladd has invested in three waterless toilets -- called Environmental Loos, or ELOOs -- for the federally owned land. The toilets provide as an ideal option for facilities in an area where water is scarce and the environment is fragile.

"People don't think about it, but the toilet is the most-used facility in the house and the toilet uses 25-40 percent of the water that runs through an average household," said George Witta, president of SWS Loo, the company which produces the toilets.

Witta brought the idea to the United States in 1993 and since then has sold thousands of ELOOs around the country. Their toilet is the first truly waterless toilet, according to Witta.

The ELOO harnesses solar power to evaporate human waste. Its design allows for a convective flow that that almost completely evaporates liquids and evaporates solids down to 10 percent of their mass. 

So what's left behind?

"In our society, a whole lot of toilet paper and a little bit of dirt," said Witta.

That leftover waste can be disposed of in the trash. The ELOOs can be installed above or below ground and operate like any other restroom.  Smells are not an issue either, according to Witta.

"(There's) no odor because it's all dispensed," said Witta. "It goes through the turbine up there and mixes with the air and diluted to the point it's not detectable."

So far, only a few ELOOs have been installed in the average home, but Witta expects that to change in the future as water becomes more and more scarce.

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