Our three-year-old boy Chance has learned to use full sentences
and also to operate the toilet over this past summer, and his fascination with
both has combined into a cute little potty mouth constantly getting scolded for
Sorry Chance, but Daddy gets to do a little toilet talk today…
all in the name of protecting and conserving countless, precious water molecules
and our resort community’s continued, sustained access to and use of them. If
it looks like a toilet, acts like a toilet, than it must be a toilet. But are
all toilets created equal? Let’s talk.
If you care one molecule about water conservation and
efficiency, not all toilets are created equal. As the ever-chugging technology
train keeps on rolling, homeowners and lodging providers who need to swap out
their old or broken toilets have many options when it comes to the new
generation of flushing. Ultra high efficiency, dual flush toilets have come of
age. Gone is the first generation of dual flush toilets that got a bad rap
because the “dual flush” terminology applied to how many times you had to flush
them to clean out the bowl, thus eliminating any water conservation efficacy
and annoying the heck out of their owners. Cue the second / third / fourth
According to Environment Canada, your toilet is by far the
biggest water-guzzling appliance in your house, accounting for about 30 per cent
of your home’s water usage. Standard North American toilets manufactured prior
to the 1980s usually require 15 to 20 litres per flush. Toilets sold during the
’80s and early ’90s use 13 litres per flush. Efficient, single flush units are
six litres per flush and the newest, ultra efficient dual flush models use
three and 4.5 litre flushes.
Into this new hyper water-saving milieu, enter Mike McLean,
former housing manager at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Feeling water
conservation was the “right thing to do” McLean was in charge of a renovation
of 100 units at the Chateau’s Glacier Staff Housing complex. For two years,
McLean petitioned to install ultra efficient toilets in the rooms as part of
the staff housing reno project. Without volume-based pricing and universal
metering in Whistler, McLean and his team were facing an efficiency investment
with little capital return… but a lot of saved water. As a conundrum-solver,
McLean dove deeper into dual flush technology and found the hooks he needed to
fish for additional savings related to water conservation.
“It turns out that the ultra efficient toilets get a lot less
maintenance calls,” McLean says. “I talked to folks at a hotel in Sun Peaks
where they have a huge water supply issue and their switch to dual flush had an
extra bonus of saving operational costs and water.” This was enough to convince
McLean’s team to go ahead.
This now-approved action of switching out 100 toilets will
create a net water savings in Whistler of around 4 million litres per year, assuming
there are two residents per unit flushing an average of five times per day
each. Eighty per cent of flushes are predicted to use the lowest per flush
volume of 3.5 litres. If every one of the nearly 5,500 guest rooms in Whistler
converted to this type of toilet, we would see annual water conservation
volumes of around 90 million litres. That’s two per cent of the water used in
Moving toward more efficient water infrastructure is
synchronistic with actions created by the Whistler2020 Water, Natural Areas and
Materials and Solid Waste community task forces and ties in directly with the
B.C. Government’s Living Water Smart plan which rolled out this past summer.
Becoming water efficient is a key objective of the B.C. Government’s plan.
Studies estimate that in almost every sector of the economy cost-effective
water use reductions of 20 to 50 per cent, or more, are available through
efficiency measures. The benefits are even greater when energy savings, reduced
infrastructure needs, and reduced impacts on water are counted.
So, when it comes to toilet talk, the chatter in town right now
is how to conserve our precious natural resource — which is water. And
that talk is flush with conservation opportunities.
To learn more about actions which are moving Whistler toward
our 2020 vision, or to get involved, go to whistler2020.ca.