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Low Flow Toilets: Not Sure Why, But the Debate Continues

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The low flow toilet debate is in the news once again thanks to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, whose recent outburst about his dissatisfaction with water-saving toilets during an Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing has generated a great deal of (largely bemused) news and blog coverage.

The Professor is sad to hear that Senator Paul has been enduring toilet troubles for the past 19 years, but believes his comments were a bit off base, to say the least. It’s true that in 1994, which was the first time that all new homes and bathroom remodeling work were required to included low flow 1.6 gallon per flush (gpf) toilets, the technology wasn’t quite there yet. Most manufacturers simply produced toilets with smaller tanks that were prone to clogs and staining because there wasn’t enough power to fully clear the bowl.

Cadet 3 High Efficiency Toilet from American StandardNowadays, however, there are countless high-performance toilet models to choose from, some of which require as little as 1.28 gpf. As far as the Professor can tell, if Senator Paul and other low flow toilet doubters took advantage of the many resources available to help them make wise “consumer choices” it would be an easy task to find a water-saving toilet that would meet their needs. Toilet manufacturers can apply for independent, third party verification of their claims related to toilet flushing power, for example. Also, as Bill Scher pointed out on, Consumer Reports is one of many great resources of objective, thoroughly researched product reviews available to help Paul find a low-flow toilet that works.

A writer for Grist agreed that Senator Paul should simply purchase a new toilet, although the Professor is skeptical about their specific recommendation, which features a small water spot and an old-fashioned washdown flush, making the toilet likely to have clogs and stains. Instead, the Professor would suggest American Standard‘s “Made in America” Cadet 3 or the Champion 4, which has recently garnered media attention for reducing maintenance calls by 80% at the Loews hotel locations that installed the new toilets last year.

In closing, the Professor absolutely concurs with the many critics whose response has been “Go buy a new toilet!” Better yet, find a rebate for upgrading to a low flow toilet in your area to save even more money while you conserve water.