Friday, 4 April 2008

Flushing duals for Africa

I was listening to the radio the other day. Radio 2, Steve Wright. There was a discussion about duel flush WCs. Between Steve and a female who seemed to hold stronger opinions. I missed who she was.

Both seemed pretty positive about the idea of the dual flush WC on the grounds that it saves water - and indeed what’s not to like?

They then got onto the subject of the possibility of using ‘grey’ water, or rainwater for this purpose.

It certainly would save on drinking water, if the technology were there at a reasonable price – and I am not talking about a rustic bucket by the WC sort of thing here.

Where it all went wrong for me was when the female remarked that it was (and I am paraphrasing here) almost morally wrong to waste good drinking water flushing toilets in the UK when there were children in other parts of the world dying desperate for clean drinking water.

Why do people say stuff like that?

The implication clearly being that we, as wasteful westerners, were somehow hogging the drinking water for ourselves. Now I apologise to her if I misinterpreted her comment, but that’s what it sounded like to me. A logical fallacy a Non-Sequitur.

I thought Doh! “Eat it all up there are starving children in - Wherever…”

I immediately had a vision of how we might measure all the drinking water saved with dual flush WCs, and put it into tankers to freight it to somewhere like Africa. I suppose we would have to build giant ships along the lines of the old sailing (low carbon footprint) tea clippers largely constructed out of wood (for sustainability) to do it. With modern technology you wouldn’t need a huge crew or to climb masts, electric winches and computer technology, powered by solar panels and wind turbines (sustainable energy) could handle it.

No, Sorry – Yes it makes good sense to only use what water we actually need to. To be efficient with it’s use - But our water usage does not deprive anyone elsewhere. Drinking water availability is down to things like climate, geology, technology, political stability and good government.


Simon Fawthrop said...

Or put simply drinking water, like wealth, isn't a zero sum game.

Your post reminded me of the debate on water company privatisation; the hard of thinking would use phrases like "water's free, it falls from the sky"

This drove me mad because nobody ever challenged this assertion by asking if those making the claim would get out of bed at 2am to fix a water mains burst without pay, or work in a pipe manufacturing factory without pay etc.

Chervil said...

You are very lucky you live in a country where it rains!

After seven years of drought in Australia and a "La Nina" year (when it is more likely to rain) with below average rainfall, I have become a water extremist in my own household. Toilet flushing is only allowed when absolutely necessary (when it's brown, flush it down, when it's yellow, let it mellow), showers are cut back to a minimum, every drop counts.

When you struggle to keep your vegetables alive because you are not allowed to water your garden when it needs water, you become very resourceful.

Having said all that, I think dual flush toilets are still a waste of water. In countries where it doesn't rain much we should promote composting toilets. They work well, don't smell and use no water.

CFD Ed said...

Chervil, You are right I am lucky, though that doesn’t stop the water companies crying drought and slapping on a hosepipe ban at the drop of a hat.

I have no quarrel with not wasting water or indeed anything else - if for no other reason than it actually costs money.

GS, re staying in bed – Exactly.

A small group of say neighbours or towns people might club together to do something voluntarily. But cash based seems to work to allow those who want to do something or have a talent for it to do that thing and be rewarded for it by everyone who benefits.

The impetus for the post was the ‘eat up your vegetables’ type illogic.

I wonder if the clipper Idea would work?

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