Flush tank.jpg

A typical family with a water-flush toilet would use at least 100,000 litres of water per year for flushing. One flush of a standard US toilet requires more water than most individuals, and many families, in the world use for all their needs in an entire day.[1]

Today there is a significant move towards using less water for flushing flush toilets. A home's toilet water sustainability can be improved in one of two ways: improving the current toilet or installing a more efficient toilet. To improve the current toilet, one possible method is to put weighted plastic bottles or bricks in the toilet tank. Also, there are inexpensive tank banks or float booster available for purchase. A tank bank is a plastic bag to be filled with water and hung in the toilet tank. A float booster attaches underneath the float ball of pre-1986 three and a half gallon capacity toilets. It allows these toilets to operate at the same valve and float setting but significantly reduces their water level, saving between one and one and a third gallons of water per flush. A major waste of water in existing toilets is leaks. A slow toilet leak is undetectable to the eye, but can waste hundreds of gallons each month. One way to check this is to put food dye in the tank, and to see if the water in the toilet bowl turns the same color. In the event of a leaky flapper, one can replace it with an adjustable toilet flapper, which allows self adjustment of the amount of water per flush.

If installing a new toilet there are a number of options to obtain the most water efficient model. A low flush toiletW uses one to two gallons per flush. Traditionally, toilets use three to five gallons per flush. If an eighteen liter per flush toilet is removed and a six liter per flush toilet is put in its place, 70% of the water flushed will be saved while the overall indoor water usage by will be reduced by 30%.[2] It is possible to have a toilet that uses no water.

Other modifications are often done on the water system itself; i.e. by using greywater, or a system that pollutes the water more gradually, more efficient use of the water is accomplished.

Additionally, one can reduce toilet water sustainability by limiting total toilet flushing. For instance, instead of flushing small wastes, such as tissues, one can dispose of these items using alternate measures.


The following contains information ported from Akvopedia

Icon cistern flush toilet.png

The Cistern Flush Toilet is usually porcelain and is a mass-produced, factory made User Interface. The Flush Toilet consists of a water tank that supplies the water for flushing the excreta and a bowl into which the excreta are deposited.

The attractive feature of the Flush Toilet is that it incorporates a sophisticated water seal to prevent odours from coming back up through the plumbing. Depending on the age and design of the toilet, approximately 3 to 20L of water may be used per flush. Water that is stored in the cistern above the toilet bowl is released by pushing or pulling a lever. This allows the water to run into the bowl, mix with the excreta and carrying them away. There are different low-volume Flush Toilets currently available that use as little as 3L of water per flush. In some cases, the volume of water used per flush is not sufficient to empty the bowl and consequently the user is forced to use two or more flushes to adequately clean the bowl, which negates the intended water saving. A good plumber is required to install a Flush Toilet. The plumber will ensure that all valves are connected and sealed properly, therefore minimizing leakage.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • The excreta of one user are flushed away before the next user arrives.
  • No real problems with odours if used correctly.
  • Suitable for all types of users (sitters, squatters, wipers and washers).
  • High capital costs; operating costs depend on the price of water.
  • Requires a constant source of water.
  • Cannot be built and/or repaired locally with available materials

Adequacy[edit | edit source]

A Cistern Flush Toilet should not be considered unless all of the connections and hardware accessories are available locally. The Cistern Flush Toilet must be connected to both a constant source of water for flushing and a Collection and Storage/Treatment or Conveyance technology to receive the blackwater. The Cistern Flush Toilet is suitable for both public and private applications and can be used in every climate.

Health Aspects/Acceptance[edit | edit source]

It is a safe and comfortable toilet to use provided it is kept clean.

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

Although flushwater continuously rinses the bowl, the toilet should be scrubbed clean regularly. Maintenance is required for the replacement or repair of some mechanical parts or fittings.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hawken, Paul, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. New York City: Little, Brown and Company, 1999. Print.
  2. Green Building Health and Environmental Considerations in Building and Renovating Today Urban Builders Group. Urban Builders Group LTD. Web. 10 Nov. 2010.
  • Maki, B. (2005). Assembling and Installing a New Toilet. Describes how to install a toilet with full colour photos and step-by-step instructions.
  • Vandervort, D. (2007). Toilets: Installation and Repair. HomeTips.com. Describes each part of the toilet in detail as well as providing links to other tools such as how to install a toilet, how to fix a leaking toilet and other toilet essentials.

Acknowledgements[edit | edit source]

Tilley, E. et al. (2008). Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies, published by Sandec, the Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries of Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland.

The publication is available in English, French, and will be made available in Spanish. Available in the IRC Digital Library

See also[edit | edit source]

Literature review and discussion[edit | edit source]

Stenström[1] et al conducted a risk assessment of many common components used in WASH systems. They concluded that the flush toilet (as a 'user interface technology') represents a high risk of daily infection for users where the toilets were dirty, much reduced if cleaner and handwashing is practiced. There is a regular medium risk of infection for workers who clean the toilets even after an incidence of diarrhea.

Given that all toilets must be connected to some kind of latrine or disposal system, this cannot be considered to be the total risk associated with a flush toilet system.

References[edit | edit source]

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors Joe Turner, KVDP
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Ported from http://www.akvo.org/ (original)
Language English (en)
Related subpages, pages link here
Aliases Flush toilet
Impact 2,899 page views
Created October 3, 2012 by KVDP
Modified June 9, 2023 by StandardWikitext bot
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