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outdoor toiletsThere's an absolutely marvelous plumbing hack on the Instructables site which is worthy of your time. The blogger gives us a very understandable synopsis of how to pre-use the water which refills your toilet tank after flushing.

The principle is that the incoming water can be utilized for hand washing prior to it entering the toilet tank reservoir overflow tube. While the blogger's working model is aesthetically crude, the concept is crystal clear in all it's glory. This strategy is common knowledge in eastern countries. I love this idea but I would build my toilet tank sink on a small stand right next to the toilet tank.

What prompted me to write this post however, is not strictly the ingenuity of that blogger's toilet water sink. I have a real problem with this prevalent notion that water is a scarce resource. I mean really, am I the only one who knows that this planet is nearly 75% covered with water? Yes, it's mostly salt water and you can't drink that stuff in it's raw form but companies like General Electric (NYSE: GE) have perfected the process of desalination. The technology and equipment are quite readily available.

For those fine people who live in areas where household water costs real money, I have a special DIY project for the whole lot of you: Try telling your legislators that you want coastline desalination plants to provide capacity to far exceed projected needs for the next century and start lobbying those goofballs in Washington to outlaw profiteering on the provision of water for domestic needs. Perhaps someone should get that message to the U.N also... do ya think?

  • Peter

    "Water" in the most general sense of the word may not be scarce, but potable water definitely is. Yes, 75% of the water on the planet is in the oceans and too salty to drink. A large percentage of the remaining 25% that is not salty is trapped in ice (mostly in the polar regions). I believe less than 3% of all the water on the planet is considered potable.

    Access to potable water is a serious problem in many places in the world. Lack of fresh water is one of the primary causes of disease and suffering in the developing world. You can survive for quite a while without much food, but you will die in under a week without fresh water.

    Don't think you can just desalinate the oceans or melt the ice caps to create fresh water. Both perform vital functions in maintaining the climate of the planet and changing them will have other serious repercussions.

    So if your argument for not conserving water is that there is lots of it around, you are simply mistaken and ignorant.

  • Ryan Carter

    I don't know that I have ever heard of much consumer lobbyism actually doing any good, and unless you make it your life's calling I really don't see the point. To me this is a trivial issue for us little people to even be talking about, as it only makes those with opposing viewpoints mad. Sure this country is all about free speech, so I am not saying this is something that shouldn't be said, I just don't think it really matters, at least not to me.

  • Belle Smith

    I am not a conservationist by any means and I too, thought Hey, there is LOTS of water on the earth -what's the big deal? But when I started to try and find answers, I found that yes, desalination has been perfected, but it takes an enormous about of energy to turn saltwater into fresh water and the countries that need the fresh water the most have the fewest resources to obtain it.

  • -C-

    Also remember that the water has to get to you by some means- can you imagine how much energy it takes to desalinate and or clean, then pump all that water up high enough to give decent water pressure?

    Think how heavy a bucket full of water is, think how many people there are and realise what energy's involved with all this.

    All of the modern conveniences that we are fortunate to enjoy in the "developed" world (including the take-for-granted things like turning on a tap/faucet to have water appear), are costing our resources dearly. We need to remember that with every single thing that we do and minimise our personal impact as much as we can possibly bare. It might not make a difference to you in your lifetime (although you shouldn't count on that), but for future generations this is likely to be everything.

  • Paul

    Desalination requires far more energy than "standard" methods of providing
    water, e.g. pumping from wells or surface waters and treating with chlorine.
    It's also far more expensive than conserving water.

    I live in Georgia USA, and this year we've had a severe drought. Rivers
    and groundwater are low. Reservoirs are near all-time lows. Some wells
    have gone dry. Conserving water by banning outside watering is helping us
    get through for far less money than building desalination plants on the
    coast, even if the infrastructure existed to pipe the water to the interior
    of the state. Plus, Georgia's coast is an abundant source of food in the
    form of shrimp, crabs, and other estuarine creatures. Large quantities of
    concentrated brine are produced in the desalination process (the salt's
    gotta go somewhere). Pumping this brine back into our coastal waters would
    likely have a devastating effect on the biology of the coastal

    Everything's connected, Gary. What seems like a good idea at first blush
    often has problems with it once you start looking into it.

    Now whether a toilet tank sink saves more water than just refraining from one flush a day is another question. But hey, you could do both.

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