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Waukesha fights dehydration

Dan Duchniak, general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility, talks about the city’s plan to cut City Hall water usage by 50 percent with new Kohler Co. toilets. It is the first of a number of conservation efforts the city will pursue as it attempts to cut water use by 20 percent by 2020.

Daily Reporter Photo/Sean Ryan

Waukesha is taking the first steps in its water conservation effort by embracing
the next generation of toilet technology.

Waukesha is chucking the three
primitive toilets in City Hall and replacing them with the superior engineering
of Kohler Co.’s most sophisticated bowl — the Cimarron. The Cimarron,
named after a river in New Mexico and Colorado, uses half as much water as the
traditional model but has superior flushing power, said Kohler Sanitary Products
Marketing Manager Kathryn Streeby.

Kohler put the Cimarron through extensive
testing before introducing it to the world in January 2004. Its Class 5 plumbing
technology — named after the rating rafters give to violent rapids —
handled 100 feet of toilet paper in a single sitting. During another laboratory
test, it demonstrated the ability to flush 31.5 ounces of bean paste.

“There’s
a lot going on under the hood,” Streeby said. “It forced us to take
what was really an inexact science and update it.”

Kohler donated the
new toilets, along with more water-efficient urinal fixtures, to the city so it
could use City Hall as a pilot project. The new toilets use 1.4 gallons of water
in a flush, compared to 3.5 gallons for the older fixtures. The city will monitor
and publicize how much water the Cimarrons saved and will use those figures to
try to encourage its citizens to trade in their older bowls for a new porcelain
throne, said Dan Duchniak, general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility.

“By
doing that, not only do you save $200 a year, but you are also conserving water,”
Duchnaik said, adding that the city could save about 500,000 gallons of water
a day if every home installed a more efficient toilet. “It’s the first
step in obtaining our goal of a 20 percent reduction (in water usage) by 2020.”

New
source needed

Waukesha is looking for a new source of drinking water because
the deep underground well it historically tapped has become contaminated with
radium. One option on the table is tapping into Lake Michigan, which, under the
new Council of Great Lakes Governors rules, would require water conservation programs.

Duchniak
said the city is hoping to use conservation to keep its water usage constant as
its population grows. A recent water utility report said the rising city population
would increase its water usage by 10 percent, and Duchniak said conservation efforts
would be able to offset that. Putting a Cimarron in every home would cut water
usage by 5 percent.

Duchniak and Mayor Carol Lombardi said they were working
on an ordinance to limit when residents could water their lawns but that the details
of the proposal were still being worked out. They are also considering a partnership
with the Focus on Energy program.

The Waukesha Housing Authority owns about
200 properties, and those might present an opportunity for water and energy conservation
demonstration projects, Lombardi said.

“Waukesha has always been a
conservative community,” she said, enjoying the double entendre. “Moving
into the future we understand more of the value of the preciousness of water.”

Gloria
McCutcheon, Department of Natural Resources Southeast Region director, said the
city was taking the lead in Wisconsin with its “outstanding” water conservation
efforts. She said the DNR also wants to disseminate more information about successful
conservation programs and Waukesha’s programs would make good examples.

“We
do that all the time, especially with recycling efforts and water conservation,”
she said. “It’s good for public awareness just to make people more aware
about the improvements over the decades to water conservation fixtures.”

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