The History (& Future) of Toilets

By Anne Tengler and Morgan Shimabuku

Ever wondered about the history of toilets? It’s fairly surprising, actually. Indoor plumbing in the US took hold in the early 1800’s as magnificent, landmark hotels were built and connected to an early type of water sewage and pipe-works systems in large cities. Today, many area homes have more toilets than people in them, and we use a LOT of water, with an average of five flushes per person, per day, according to a study by the American Water Works Association Research Foundation.

Here in Colorado water demand is predicted to outpace supply by the year 2050, so it’s time we start thinking about how to reduce our water use in the loo. Currently, approximately  30% of daily water use in a home is from flushing the toilet, but luckily, modern technology has created high-efficiency toilets that can use significantly less water per flush, without sacrificing performance.

Here at the Center for ReSource Conservation, in partnership with the City of Boulder, City of Lafayette and Thornton Water through Thornton Cares, we’re offering a new High-Efficiency Toilet Upgrade program. This program provides residents in these cities with one high-efficiency toilet that uses only 0.8 gallons per flush, either through a low-cost direct installation by our CRC technician or self-installation with a visual check.  The water savings from these toilets are expected to average 16,000 gallons per household per year.

Beyond using efficient toilet technology, gray-water use in toilets will soon become another viable alternative here in Colorado. Gray-water comes from the sinks, showers, and washing machines in your home.  Recent Colorado legislation is paving the way for simple, at-home gray-water distribution systems that can re-route gray water for toilet flushing and landscape irrigation. Can you imagine the water savings you would have with high efficiency toilets, a gray-water system and re-doing your landscape with Xeric plants from our Garden In A Box program? What an efficient and sustainable system that would be!