Fewer flushes save big money

There’s a whole lot less flushing going on at Cottonwood Elementary School and it’s saving the Central Kitsap School District time and money.

The 26-year-old school got an $8 million facelift last summer that brought the school up to date to with the Americans with Disabilities Act and current technology — right down to the bathrooms.

Before the renovation, each of the school’s classrooms had two toilet rooms along with a sink. In the redesign, the bathrooms were removed from the classrooms to free up space, said Richard Best, district facilities director.

Instead, the bathrooms are now in pods with the girls on one side and the boys on the other with a community hand-washing station in the middle.

As it turns out, that move — along with installing Falcon water-free urinals in all the boys’ bathrooms — has cut water use at the school about 50 percent.

The school’s original toilets used about 5 gallons per flush. The new toilets use one and a half gallons per flush.

The changes pared the school down from 36 separate bathrooms to three pods with 18 toilets, seven waterless urinals and three sinks. The urinals alone save an estimated 40,000 gallons of water each year.

That water savings translates to about $2,000 each month on the water bill, Best said.

The waterless urinals use a cartridge to filter the uric acid out of the urine so the acid doesn’t build up in the water pipes. The school’s custodians change the filter about once every three months.

When the filters are changed, custodians pour about two and a half gallons of soapy water down the pipes to avoid a buildup.

Best said the waterless urinals are being tested at Cottonwood Elementary may eventually be installed at the other schools. Waterless urinals already are installed at the district maintenance office.

The new bathroom configuration is a water saver and a time saver, said district custodian William McEnerny.

The custodians sanitize the bathrooms every night. Rather than use the old spray-bottle and a rag, the custodians have high-tech help in the Tennant 750.

The Tennant 750 is a rolling wet-vacuum the custodians use to spray a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning chemical into the bathrooms, spray the bathroom down with water then vacuum the water up every night.

It’s essentially a hands-free cleaning tool that works like a pressure washer.

Using the old method it takes 14-20 minutes to clean a bathroom to standard. With the Tennant 750, it takes seven to eight minutes.

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