Letters for August 18, 2011

Dual-flush toilets!

Re “Wake up call” by Hugh Biggar and Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, August 4):

In response to the fact you cite in your article that the vast majority of water usage in Sacramento comes from private residences, consider this cost-effective conservation solution that is easy to install and requires no sacrifice on the part of individual users: dual-flush toilet kits.

Dual-flush toilets have been in use in other parts of the world for years, but I’ve never seen one here in the U.S. The idea is simple: Instead of a lever to flush, you’ve got two buttons. Press one button for a half flush when flushing only liquids and the other button for a full flush for solids. The savings per flush for a half flush can be almost three-quarters of a gallon; multiply this by the millions of “number one” flushes that use about 1.6 gallons per flush every year in apartments, houses, hotels, etc., in Sacramento, and the savings become substantial. You can also save additional water, even on full flushes, by adjusting the amount of water that fills the bowl, which is usually more than is required.

Of the two types of dual-flush kits, the kind that replaces the existing flapper valve is preferable because you avoid any incompatibilities between old and new parts. Plus a complete conversion kit will replace old parts that may have been quietly leaking and wasting additional water for years (your article quoted 12 percent of indoor use coming from leaks).

The kits I bought for my house came from Being Water, a company in Fort Bragg. They cost about $30 each, took half an hour to install, are fully adjustable for both half and full flush and how much water you fill in the bowl, and work with virtually all toilet types. Dual-flush conversion kits are an easy, affordable solution to water conservation.

Just as SMUD has offered subsidies for energy-efficient light bulbs, Sacramento-area water authorities should consider similar incentives for the widespread conversion to dual-flush toilets. Not only would the water savings be significant, but with metered water usage coming for all of Sacramento, so would the money saved.

George I. Paganelis

Editor’s note: SN&R has been using dual-flush toilets (as well as waterless urinals in the men’s room) at our Del Paso Boulevard headquarters since December of 2009. They are responsible for significant water savings.

It’s called competition

Re “Curbside quarrel” by Christopher Arns (SN&R Frontlines, August 11):

I’ve got to back Set It Aside here. If they are getting more customers, how will this harm the recycling movement? Just because people stop using one recycling service and have switched to another, does that not mean that these people are still recycling? And certainly the convenience of this service encourages more people to recycle than would normally.

My problem with [CalRecycle’s] Mr. [Mark] Oldfield’s statement about decline in garbage bill revenues: You may indeed experience a decline in revenue, but that would be expected considering a service you provide is no longer being used—which means you aren’t having to pay the cost of running said service (say, picking up, sorting and processing). So how does it make sense that they would raise their prices when their own costs shouldn’t be higher?

Adrienne Dolan
via email

Go after big ag for water

Re “The thirst” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Feature, August 4):

May I ask: Whose thirst?

I am tired of being preached to and told to do such things as turn off the water while I brush my teeth so I can save a few drops of water, while agriculture in this state wastes millions of gallons. Sure, you can say, don’t I need to eat what they grow? Yes, but I don’t eat cotton, which covers hundreds of thousands of acres. To make matters worse, we subsidize this crop, and it also pollutes our clean water supply (since it is not a food crop, they can spray the heck out of it).

We need comprehensive, big solutions and creative solutions. For example, how about doing away with so many big lawns? Lawns are truly crazy. We harvest a crop (grass) every week and then throw it away. And we insist on growing this crop in areas where there is insufficient rainfall, so we pump out our water tables. Is that not nuts? I feel like my stupid lawn owns me!

At least I don’t live in the Southern California desert.

Mike Savino

Dishonest signature gathering

Re “Vote away the gay” by Kel Munger (SN&R Frontlines, August 4):

What bugs me about this whole thing is not that they’re going against [the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act], (even though I really want this law to pass)—it is our right as Americans to stand up for what we believe. What bothers me is the way they are going about it.

I met a group of these signature gathers outside of a Safeway in East Sacramento. They approached me by asking me to sign a petition on a number of bills and laws currently trying to be put on the ballot. When I asked what the specifically the petition was for, they said, “Well, they are trying to pass a new tax bill, yada yada yada, and an education act that we are trying to refute, so you can just sign right here.”

So I said, “What’s the education act?”

They said, “Oh, they are trying to change the curriculum next year, and it will cost the state a lot of money, and California just can’t afford that.”

When I pressed them about what was changing, the man finally said, “They are trying to change the curriculum for the inclusion of gays.”

Wow … really? First of all, it took me a number of very pointed questions to get to this answer, so clearly they are not informing the public of what they are really signing for; and second, has this guy never had an education in politically correct terms? The inclusion of gays? Wow.

Anyway, I promptly told him I was a lesbian, and he told me to have a nice day. I was furious. I’m fine with people exercising their rights as Americans, but to try and trick people (even gay people!) into signing a bill that they may be totally against signing is so low and wrong.

Sarah Kelly

Remember the water cycle

Re “Wake up call” by Hugh Biggar and Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, August 4):

It was very interesting to read about how many gallons of water that we use. However, nowhere in the article did I see any mention of how many gallons we put back into the supply. Much of what we use goes back into the drain system and then to the river, where it is used by the next city.

James Sakauye