The world of waterless urinals – Will it revolutionise water conservation?
Writer: Meera Vijayann
Honestly, the idea made me a cringe a little at first. But I admit, I found it interesting. Earlier this week, I came across a strange but interesting story about how waterless urinals might be the way ahead. Environmentally safe, these no-flush loos are supposed to be the latest fad among the eco-conscious. Of course, considering Indian society still largely regards water as the sole way of cleansing oneself i.e. be it toilet habits, the use of handkerchiefs over soft tissues or being generally skeptical about small conveniences such as hand sanitisers etc., I was skeptical whether this would actually be accepted in India
Photo courtesy – Hank Mitchell
However, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that the mayor actually gave the ‘go-ahead’ to installing waterless urinals at Ripon Buildings in Chennai last year on an experimental basis. They were installed in a bus stand in Trichy this year too. Better still, there were no exorbitant rates for the public to use waterless urinals despite its actual cost being relatively higher than usual. So, coming back to the question, here’s why I found this interesting.
Water scarcity is one of India’s biggest problems. Most Indian towns and villages, as it has been reported time and time again in the news, do not have access to sanitation or water. Installing a waterless urinal in these areas might be helpful as it has lesser maintenance costs, a simple cartridge mechanism, low installation costs and is eco-friendly. Unlike regular toilets that use a large amount of water for cleaning and constant flushing, the cartridge in a waterless urinal acts as a drain tap. On an average, the waterless urinal also helps conserve close to 150,000 litres of water every year.
While this may seem an innovative, simple and efficient way, getting the Indian public (not just the majority that live in rural India) will prove the biggest challenge. After all, they say, old habits die hard. Currently, there is only one known supplier of waterless urinals in India, which makes it obvious that the idea hasn’t taken off too well with the masses. To be fair, everyone in India are already aware of how filthy toilets can get with water scarcity so many probably don’t understand how going ‘waterless’ can mean ‘clean’. As a toilet owner who has access to water in the city, I found myself wondering if there was a possibility that I might shift to using a waterless toilet if I had the chance. Well, I guess the idea still worries me a little.