To the Last Drop: Toilet talk: You’ve waited long enough |

To the Last Drop: Toilet talk: You’ve waited long enough

Water is essential in our daily lives. Turn on the tap, and water comes out. Have you contemplated how much you use inside your home?

According to the American Water Works Association, about 27 percent of household water use is flushed down the toilet. Although it’s probably not a common topic at the dinner table, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each of us will flush nearly 140,000 times in a lifetime, totaling about 700,000 gallons if using one of the older, water-guzzling toilets. That’s about 63 family-sized swimming pools.

An average household can save 4,000 gallons of water per year by replacing older toilets with low-flow models. The current code requires 1.6 gallon flush toilets, but newer models use 1.28 gallons or less. There still are quite a few 3.5- to 5-gallon flush toilets in our community even though these no longer were manufactured after 1994.

For those who think low-flow toilets perform poorly, the WaterSense certification was established by the EPA to ensure WaterSense labeled toilets meet rigorous criteria for performance and efficiency. Replacing an older toilet with a WaterSense model not only will save thousands of gallons per year, it will get the job done.

WaterSense toilets are available in a variety of styles and prices starting at about $300 for a residential model. Using available rebates from local water districts to replace older toilets with efficient ones — $150 per toilet for commercial and $100 for residential — you can cut the cost significantly. Visit for more information.

Other options

Another water-saving option is the dual-flush, high-efficiency toilet, which has two flush volumes, one for solids and one for liquids. There also are pressure assist toilets that utilize pressurized air for an extra fast flush using less than a gallon.

Leak detection

A trillion gallons per year are lost nationwide through leaks in the home, according to the EPA. Many of these leaks are toilet-related and can be fixed with little effort and cost. A running toilet can waste hundreds of gallons per day. Sometimes, these leaks are silent. It’s easy to check whether your toilet is running by adding a few drops of food coloring in the tank, then waiting 15 to 30 minutes. If the color makes it to the bowl, you have a leak.

Lyn Halliday is an environmental scientist and owner of Environmental Solutions Unltd. She consults locally on environmental issues and was instrumental in the development of the Steamboat Springs Water Conservation Plan. She also founded the Sustainable Business Program in 2006 and works with local businesses to reduce their environmental footprint, including water consumption reduction.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User