The Benefits of Waterless Urinals in Correctional Facilities

At this point, most prison and correctional facility administrators have heard of the benefits of waterless urinals.  These include:

  • Save as much as 35,000 gallons of water annually per urinal
  • Eliminate infrastructure costs to provide fresh water to urinals
  • Require no freeze protection as might be needed with a water using urinal
  • Help reduce energy costs
  • Have few if any maintenance or repair costs because they have no flush valves
  • Reduce or eliminate clogged pipes
  • Require no batteries or direct wiring to operate
  • Are less subject to vandalism, again because they have no mechanical parts
  • Are EPA WaterSense equivalents and are environmentally friendly/sustainable
  • Have a payback of less than 2 years

But all of these benefits can apply to all types of facilities. What benefits are there for correctional facilities in particular?  After all, correctional facilities are in many ways an entirely different city, community, and culture when compared to life outside prisons.  Examples of how waterless urinals benefit correctional facilities specifically include the following:

  • Inmates have a tendency to “play” with water and flushed fixtures.  In some locations, administrators have had to regulate how many flushes can occur per hour in prison cells.  Similar constraints have been added to some water-using urinals.  With no water used at all, this is an issue that does not need to be addressed with a waterless urinal.
  • Toilets and urinals tend to develop leaks over time; leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water in a prison and increase operating costs significantly
  • Water from urinals is often used by inmates to sabotage drug testing
  • Waterless urinals help improve restroom sanitation; with each flush of a water-using urinal, what is referred to as a “bacterial spray” is released from the urinal, landing on floors, walls, partitions, etc.  This does not happen with a no-water urinal
  • More correctional facilities are seeking LEED certification; invariably one of the most significant steps they can take toward certification and sustainability is to reduce water consumption through the installation of waterless urinals
  • Odors in restrooms are typically the result of bacteria build-up.  Because the interior of no-water urinals stays dry, there is less bacteria buildup, if any, which means fewer malodors.
  • Water use in common and visitor areas is drastically reduced.

Finally, while prisons and correctional facilities were often not subject to water restrictions during droughts, that all changed with the last drought in California.  Prisons, just like all other types of facilities, were required to cut water consumption by 25 percent.  Unless cuts are made to the irrigation of vegetation or the number of showers allowed per inmate, it can be difficult to address this requirement.  What administrators have discovered is that installing no-water urinals is not only a major step but may be the only step necessary for them to reduce water consumption by 25 percent or more.