Archive for EPAct 1992


Toilet Politics

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Professor Toilet never expected to see the Daily Kos take on toilets.

But then again, it is three more years before another presidential race, so they have to talk about something.

On Sat Jun 27, 2009 post,  “Timbuk3” is suddenly motivated to write a Daily Kos post about his toilet before 7 am because of a leak in his existing toilet.   Armed with research, Timbuk3 reports that he brought home an American Standard Champion 4 toilet:

“This baby will flush a watermelon (10 out of 10 rating), features the ever-clean surface, and has a “whisper quiet seat” (hilarious to watch if you like “toilet humor”, it lowers the lid slowly onto the bowl when it’s closed to avoid that “lid slam” sound in the middle of the night), all for under 250 bucks… Not only is the flush much quieter than my last toilet, I’m going to use about 15% less water from now on.”

So what is the political connection?  Timbuk3 said that the leaky toilet inspired  “a great comparison between the Democrats of the early 90s and today’s Democrats.”  Professor Toilet is entirely non-partisan, so must reluctantly pass on the plethora of potential rejoinders to that line.

Timbuk3 cited the toilet politics that first led to clogged toilets and frustrated flushing when the Democrat-sponsored Energy Policy Act of 1992 first took effect.

EPAct 1992  required all toilets to use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Noting that in spite of the initial problems, “toilet manufacturers stepped up, and second and third generation low-flow toilets were quickly on the market,” Timbuk3 concludes that today’s Democrats should not worry about  initially “pissed off” constituents in moving policy forward.

Seems oddly precise to have the law limit the amount of water used in toilet flushing to 1.6 gallons.  Where did 1.6 come from?  What not a nice round number such as 1.5 gallons?

The odd number comes from the origins of low-flow toilets.   1.6 gallons equals 6 liters, the amount of water commonly used in toilets across Europe and Asia at the time the US Energy Policy Act of 1992 was in development. by the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute.


The Day Bad Flushing Began

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Dave Barry Toilet

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandated that all toilets sold in the United States effective January 1, 1994 could flush with no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf).    Unfortunately, science had not quite caught up to our politicians, Professor Toilet says sarcastically.   And the season of bad flushing had begun.

Humorist Dave Barry told MSNBC that “blowing the lid off that story” got one of strongest reaction of all the columns he’s ever written.

The objective was water conservation, but the result was anything but.  Using less water in toilets engineered to flush 3.5 gallons or more only meant double flushing or more, wasting far more water than the old toilets ever used.

Fortunately, science prevailed–even over Congress.    Read more from the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute about the difference between water conservation and water efficiency.