Water Efficient Dual-Flush Toilets - RiverU Proposal by Lindsay Avolio, Caroline Hoctor and Dan Schwab

An act to amend the National Energy Policy Act of 1992, in relation to the water efficiency standards of toilets and urinals.


Caroline Hoctor, Lindsay Avolio and Dan Schwab

Caroline Hoctor, Lindsay Avolio and Dan Schwab

  • All toilets sold, installed, or manufactured in the state of New York must be dual-flush and possess the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Label by January 1, 2016.
  • All urinals sold, installed, or manufactured in the state of New York must possess the WaterSense Label by January 1, 2016.
  • Establish a tax incentive plan by January 1, 2016 for commercial or residential buildings in New York State that retrofit their plumbing to the WaterSense dual-flush toilets and WaterSense urinals.


Toilets use 1.6 gallons of treated water per flush, based on the national regulations set in the 1992 Energy Policy Act. According to the EPA, human waste disposal is one of the largest uses of water in the United States, accounting for 27 percent of water usage. Making this process more efficient will save energy and water, decrease the strain on dated water infrastructure, and save significant amounts of taxpayer dollars.

  • WaterSense dual-flush toilets enable the user to choose a high flush for solid waste and a reduced volume flush for liquid waste. The high volume flush uses 1.6 gallons of water while the lower volume flush uses only 0.8 gallons.
  • These toilets are able to reduce water use by 30 to 60 percent depending on the quality of the conventional toilet. According to the EPA, an average American family of four can save up to 23,400 gallons of treated water annually by implementing the WaterSense dual-flush toilets, translating into savings of approximately $290.
  • WaterSense labelled urinals save from 0.5 to 4.5 gallons of water per flush depending on the efficiency of the urinals they replace.
  • Installing either the WaterSense dual-flush toilets or urinals can assist in the acquisition of LEED certification.

As discussed above, the water used in toilets and urinals is potable and is treated the same way as drinking water. Reducing the amount of water flushed would not only save taxpayer dollars, but also work to address the potential threat of a state-wide water crisis.

Arguments in Opposition

Are dual-flush toilets more expensive?

They range in price from about $100 to $1000 depending on the model. Some models are more expensive than conventional toilets; however, all the proposed dual-flush models possess the same WaterSense efficiency. The annual cost of water saved will return the investment of purchasing and installing the toilet within only a few years. Also, once mandated, the price of the toilets themselves will drop as a result of high demand and competition between manufacturers.

Are dual-flush toilets harder to install?

These toilets do not require any additional plumbing, but installation is slightly more difficult than conventional toilets. This being said, the installation is nothing with which an average plumber cannot contend.