"This is a really weird game, and you’ll find that most people will not want to play this."
Revenge of the low-flow toilets
You really have to hand it to San Francisco for taking low-impact living seriously. Whether it’s enacting ironclad recycling laws, banning plastic shopping bags, making it financially less cumbersome for home owners to embark on energy-saving home improvement projects or, as I mentioned yesterday, permitting the non-potable indoor use of captured rainwater, the City by the Bay has long been ahead of the eco-curve.
Home and business owners around San Francisco have also been proactive in installing low-flow toilets (a city-funded rebate program has certainly helped things along) to help conserve water. According to Tyrone Jue, a spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission, SanFran's low-flow toilet boom has cut the city’s annual water consumption by 20 million gallons.
But as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, not all is well in low-flow toilet land. The profusion of water-saving potties in Frisco has resulted in a “multimillion-dollar plumbing stink” with sludge backing up inside sewer pipes and emitting a “rotten egg stench” in certain areas of the city. Ahhh … there’s nothing like the delightful smell of human waste on a warm summer day.
Over the past five years, the city has spent a whopping $10 million in sewer system and sewage plant upgrades to tame the stink. And, according to the Chronicle, the city has just spent even more, investing in a $14 million, three-year supply of a certain odor-combating chemical: bleach. The city plans to use highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite to alleviate the stench and disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s pumped into the San Francisco Bay. The Chronicle does the math: “That translates into 8.5 million pounds of bleach either being poured down city drains or into the drinking water supply every year.”
While I applaud San Francisco’s efforts in looking out for heath of both Mother Nature and its residents, this is one instance of the city’s somewhat aggressive tactics backfiring in a big way.