Going Waterless … It’s Not Just for Urinals Anymore

With nearly 1.5 billion people, India has more challenges when it comes to water than just about any other country in the world. Seventy-five percent of Indian households do not have access or regular access to clean drinking water, and this number jumps to 85 percent in more rural areas of the country.

Further, not only is water scarce, but it’s often contaminated. When it comes to water quality, out of 122 countries, India ranks 120th, meaning it has some of the most contaminated water in the world.

However, there is light at the end of this tunnel. India is also home to some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the world, and some are developing products that traditionally require clean water, but which can now be used totally without water.


Many of these new products focus on personal hygiene. Baths and showers are a luxury in most of the country. However, these entrepreneurs have developed body washes and shampoos that work effectively and entirely without water. They have caught on fast in rural areas of the country, and the Indian armed forces view them as a godsend. Most of these soldiers are stationed in very remote parts of the country where water for drinking and bathing must be flown or trucked in. Far less water now must be delivered to the troops as a result of these waterless bath products and shampoos.

Indian hospitals are also testing an assortment of products that once required large amounts of water, but with these new technologies being introduced, require none or very little. Again, many of them have to do with hygiene. Even sponge washing patients, these hospitals report, uses enormous volumes of water. To solve the problem, sponge washing has been replaced with hygiene products similar to those mentioned earlier but designed with enhanced antiseptic qualities to help prevent the spread of disease.


The country is also experimenting with waterless sanitation systems. We find these being installed in hospitals as well as in many schools around the country. Although the various models may differ in how they operate, all such systems are designed to work without the need for water flushing waste into sewer systems. This serves another benefit as well. Major parts of India do not have any sanitation infrastructure. No plumbing is installed nor is water available to remove waste. Waterless sanitation systems circumvent these obstacles.

One component of waterless sanitation systems is the waterless urinal. These fixtures, which have been on the market in India for more than 25 years, are now found throughout the country. In combination with the new waterless technologies coming on line, hospitals specifically have reported their water bills have dropped significantly. This is the big side benefit of going waterless: water bills become a lot smaller and much more manageable.