California plumbers union opposes water-conserving urinals

If California plumbers have anything to do with it, you’ll be peeing in water ’til the day you die. (We feel that our whole careers have been leading up to that sentence.) Many public facilities in the water-strapped Golden State have installed no-flush urinals, which use gravity and replaceable cartridges to conserve about half a gallon of water per whiz — an average 40,000 gallons yearly per device. But a powerful plumbers union, which made almost $500,000 in campaign contributions in 2005, has proactively written to dozens of state lawmakers suggesting they “proceed with extreme caution” — that is, do nothing — on proposals to explicitly permit no-flush urinals under the state’s plumbing code. The California Pipe Trades Council says that waterless urinals are a health threat. But advocates note that getting relief without having to touch a handle makes the no-flush experience more sanitary than the traditional water-wasting one. Really, we just wrote this blurb because it’s about pee. Why lie?