Readers React

Updating California's drought-unfriendly bathrooms

To the editor: Marika Shioiri-Clark addresses the water wasted by auto-flush toilets in public restrooms. By focusing on toilets only, she misses other opportunities for water conservation. ("How phantom flushing wastes water, and how to fix it," op-ed, May 9)

Today, we activate most restroom faucets by depressing a metal plunger, yet closure of the valve requires water pressure. Older-model faucets required hand pressure to keep them flowing, snapping shut upon release. In addition, effective and sanitary waterless urinals have been available for decades, yet we see few in public men's rooms.

Other than for access by the disabled, public restrooms should not include auto-flush toilets or flush urinals of any kind. Responding to hand pressure or light beams, restroom faucet valves should close immediately, not several seconds later.

James McGillis, Pahrump, Nev.


To the editor: At theaters, airports and restaurants, rows of toilets sound like an ongoing Niagara Falls.

The patron may exit, but the sound continues, prompted by the slightest jostle. The toilets discharge our precious water with total abandon. I love the sound of flowing water, but I cringe at the wasteful lack of respect for this precious life source.

I implore our legislators, both city and state, to promptly draw up rules that reflect the current emergency. We need to return to the manual flushing of toilets.

What an incredibly great article. Thank you, Marika Shioiri-Clark.

Marissa Rubin, Santa Monica


To the editor: Shioiri-Clark makes an interesting point regarding the wasted water from unintended toilet flushing. While the answer for big airports may be to disengage the automatic function, the state of California has approached the problem in another way.

Wandering around the visitor center at Hearst Castle two weeks ago, I was impressed by signs on the doors of both public restrooms. They read something like "By order of the governor, the restroom is closed due to severe drought. Please use the porta potties in the parking lot."

It's an idea other large public facilities might want to consider.

Carolyn Ziegler-Davenport, Pine Mountain Club, Calif.


To the editor: Shioiri-Clark's article was brilliant. The only thing she forgot to mention was that some automatic toilets flush even when you are actually sitting on them.

Contact your legislators to get these toilets removed.

Marsha Epstein, Los Angeles

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