Taken by Wesley Ng

As one of many ongoing projects this year, the Western Municipal Water District (WMWD) program will replace 244 toilets in the OBAN Student Apartment Complex with new, high-efficiency models. The UCR Office of Housing, Dining & Residential Services collaborated with WMWD and other local agencies on the program as part of the continuing effort to improve sustainability.

“UCR has a great sustainability plan and this meets our ongoing efforts at reducing water and other utility uses,” said Hassan Ghamlouch, director of Housing, Dining & Residential Services Operations, in a phone interview with the Highlander.

As of mid-September, 1,500 toilets have been installed within Western’s service area. The WMWD Board extended the program that began earlier in 2012 and will allow for another 1,675 toilets to be installed. This is expected to save 1,400 acre-feet of water, the equivalent of what 3,000 average family households use annually. It is a water savings of almost 400,000 gallons over the lifetime of each toilet.

The older toilets require the use of more than 3.5 gallons as compared to the new toilets which use 1.28 gallons per flush.

Johnny Zhou, a fourth year UC Riverside student and resident of Oban, said, “I think this is a great opportunity to save water in the long run. We are talking about something that we use on a daily basis and it will definitely benefit the environment.” Zhou has noticed that existing toilets in Oban have a slight delay when flushing.

“I can’t help but notice that the toilets in Oban have a bit of a lag time when flushing. As a result, more water than needed is used to do the job,” he said.

In 2009, UC Riverside converted about 600 toilets in university-owned apartments, also through Western’s program. This has saved the university 5,468 cubic feet of water worth $7,382 annually. Oban did not undergo the retrofit then because it was initially not part of UCR student housing.

“Since the program is re-funded, we’re taking advantage of the opportunity,” said Ghamlouch.

The retrofit work begins Dec. 17 and is expected to last for about a week. Ghamlouch said that each toilet should take approximately 15 to 20 minutes for installation.

The High-Efficiency Toilet program is the result of a partnership between the cities of Corona and Riverside, the WMWD and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Jeff Sims, Western’s Deputy General Manager said in a WMWD press release that older toilets will be recycled to responsibly manage all resources during the process. The project will also help Western fulfill the state-mandated 20 percent urban water demand reduction by 2020.