What We Can Learn from “The Pitt”

university of pittsburgh

What We Can Learn from “The Pitt”

The Pitt News, affectionately referred to as The Pitt, is the independent student newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh.  Published throughout the year and daily during spring and fall semesters, The Pitt has been around for 110 years.

One of The Pitt’s staff columnists, Joshua Jordan, recently published an article encouraging the University to continue installing no-water urinals throughout the school. 

“As part of our school’s sustainability plan, the University wants to reduce water and energy consumption on campus by 50 percent. Installing waterless urinals is the perfect way to achieve both goals.”

While it is clear how no-water urinals can save water, it is often not as clear how they can reduce costs related to energy consumption.  What many of us overlook or do not realize is that it takes energy, typically gas or oil, to deliver, remove, treat, and store water.  Using less water helps reduce these costs.

Jordan says his argument for installing no-water urinals on the campus is coming at a very opportune time.  “Pittsburgh plans to raise its water usage fees by 18 percent in March 2019, so Pitt will need to cut water consumption by that same amount to avoid a sizable hike in cost.”

However, Jordan has met with some opposition to the installation of water-free urinals. A sanitary engineering expert from California reports that no-water urinals may have more sanitary and hygienic issues than traditional water-using urinals. 

“The no-flush urinal ignores hard-learned lessons on sanitation…by failing to provide consistent cleaning of the urinal wall.”

However, Jordan points to the fact that for bacteria to survive on a waterless urinal wall or any surface, for that matter, they need moisture. Because the walls on a waterless urinal remain dry, there is little chance bacteria will either develop or grow.


Nevertheless, he did point out one problem he believes the University will need to consider should they install more no-water urinals on campus.  The installation of no-water urinals “would prove to be quite an arduous endeavor.” Replacing all of the hundreds of conventional urinals on the Pitt campus “would take dozens of people and cost tens of thousands of dollars.”

However, one way to address this issue is to transfer to waterless urinals in stages. And keep in mind, due to increasing water and sewer rates, the rate of return increases the more the no-water urinals are installed.

According to Klaus Reichart, CEO and Founder of Waterless Co, Inc., that likely is true.  “However, there is no return on the investment when installing a conventional urinal, but there is when installing a no-water urinal. Typically, these pay for themselves in about 18 months.  After that, it’s cash in the bank.”


Source: “Without Waterless Urinals, Urine Trouble,” by Joshua Jordan, The Pitt News, University of Pittsburgh, September 20, 2018.