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Waterless Urinals Primed for Coup d'Etat

By Andrew Peerless in Miscellaneous on May 12, 2005 1:47PM

image courtesy of the Sloan Valve Co.Chicagoist always enjoys entering a bar or restaurant bathroom and discovering a urinal filled with ice (how many cubes can you melt!?), but actual urinal technology is something we rarely consider. All that changed this morning when we heard about city hall's new waterless urinals.

They sound like something straight out of a science fiction movie, replacing the standard pool of water and urinal cake with a replaceable, biodegradable filter that contains a floating layer of liquid sealant. Urine possesses a magical ability to penetrate the sealant, which then re-closes to seal off any stankiness while the pee goes down the drain. Amazing!

Waterless urinals save hella water and hella sewage expenses, and are already in widespread use at choice locales including Disney World, the San Diego Zoo and the Rose Bowl (where waterless urinals saved an estimated 130,000 gallons of water on New Year's Day alone).

So, you ask, why aren't waterless urinals widespread in Chicagoland? Perhaps it's because they're currently illegal in Illinois. That's right... our state operates under the Uniform Plumbing Code (as opposed to the International Plumbing Code, which rules the school in 29 other states nationwide), and waterless devices are explicitly forbidden by its laws. The Illinois Department of Public Health allowed city hall to install five of the futuristic devices as a trial, and will monitor the situation for six months (manufacturers swear the waterless urinals actually contain fewer germs and bacteria than their standard flush counterparts, while plumbers unions and some health officials find them suspect).

Chicagoist loves the idea of saving so much water, especially given our mayor's desire to make Chicago the greenest city in America. Stay tuned for developments...

Image courtesy of the Sloan Valve Co.