Aside from the obvious savings and environmental impact of reduced water usage, there is another effect that is not as obvious because it is an indirect benefit. In order for purified water to be available every time a faucet is opened, a shower is turned on, or a toilet or urinal is flushed, there has to be a substantial supporting infrastructure to get this water from its unpurified state in rivers, lakes, and dams, purify it, and deliver it to households and commercial sites all over the country.
Much of this process results in the consumption of electricity – for example:
- Water is generally pumped from its source into storage facilities.
- It is then purified and processed, requiring more pumping and possibly other processes that use devices powered by electricity.
- Water is then distributed to the entire supply grid – requiring a lot more pumping.
- Sometimes water users consume electricity (e.g. by using pressure/circulation pumps, filters, etc.)
- After water is used, it must again be transported to treatment plants and processed. Most filtration and aeration systems are electrically powered, and this process consumes a lot of energy. Based on a study in California, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that it takes 500-1500 kilowatt hours of electricity to purify one acre/foot of water (1 acre of water lying a foot deep – if the water is 2 feet deep this figure doubles).
Switching from flushing to waterless urinal systems not only cuts overall water consumption but also has a knock-on effect that helps to reduce unnecessary electricity consumption.