March 1, 2011

Carried away

I forget -- what does the word "flush" mean?

Oh, right:

San Francisco's big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink.

You mean...

Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months.

Paging Rube Goldberg:

Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite - better known as bleach - to act as an odor eater...

h/t Gord

Posted by EBD at March 1, 2011 12:03 AM

Has anyone in S.F. thought to ask what will happen to the natural decomposing poop being put into the ocean after the naturally decomposing poop has been rendered into large chunks of non naturally decomposing poop by that 8.5 million pounds of highly concentrated bleach? In effect, preserving the poop, so that it doesn't naturally decompose until it's in someone else's neighborhood?

Or, perhaps the City of S.F. could just butt out. .. not likely.

Has anyone asked the EPA if it's legal to just pour 8.5 million pounds of bleach down the sewer and into the ocean? I bet they'd love to get involved.

Posted by: marc in calgary at February 28, 2011 10:48 PM

Toilets were designed to do a certain job.

When the amount of water used was not part of the equation.

Just old fashion logical engineering.

Good for ya San Fran. I was there in 1998. Nice city but will never see me and my credit card ever again.

Posted by: Jeff K at February 28, 2011 10:49 PM

That is just so hilarious although can't think of this problem happening in a more deserving city. So the cost so far is $15 million to save 20 million gallons of water. I'm sure one could probably buy brand name mineral water in bulk at that price and have every SF resident pour a bottle of it down the toilet when they flush. I can imagine water going for $0.75/gallon if one is getting it from a solar powered desalination plant but I very much doubt that tap water goes for that much even in SF.

Posted by: loki at February 28, 2011 10:49 PM

Not knowing any better, we installed a low flush toilet back in '06 when we redid one of the bathrooms. Got a $60 rebate but the toilet is crap; it cannot do the job (pardon the puns).

Recently we re-did the other bathroom and I was adamant that a proper toilet was going in, the hell with any rebate. And now, crazy at it sounds, I'm in love with the one we installed. One flush does the trick - no second flush, no running for the plunger. I'm in love with a stupid toilet. It's great.

Posted by: Mississauga Matt at February 28, 2011 10:58 PM

I always suspected San Francisco was full of sh!t... :)

Posted by: Cynical Bastard at February 28, 2011 10:59 PM

Coming soon to an Olympic Village near you!

At least California (arguably) has a water shortage, in Vancouver's case its all about fashion and stupidity

Posted by: Cascadian at February 28, 2011 11:01 PM

don't get me started on water-less urinals!

Posted by: puddin n pie at February 28, 2011 11:11 PM

This is what happens when you are compulsive centralizers.
Stories like this show a natural justice at work, regardless of leftist dementia.

The bitter herb you eat when you make all toilets become collectively if not aggressively standardized by social fad by over government.

Making toilets Marx certified.

I hope the crap they now have to put up with stays a pert of their lives for good. As a reminder of just how insane voting for Hippies gets you.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at February 28, 2011 11:20 PM

I'd often heard that Frisco is a great city to be from.
The current population seems to have been 'milked' of all their common sense.

Posted by: Oz at February 28, 2011 11:26 PM

Next thing will be a central crap pit and then suck the methane gas off for our cook stove, like rural china has. Ooh yea, one way or another we will make Suzuki happy. Cities are constantly whining about the cost of providing treated water and the cost of doing so. Why not simply run untreated water to flush toilets, and all other applications that do not require treated water. Too simple I guess.

Posted by: peterj at February 28, 2011 11:32 PM

howcum the turds just dont pile up anyway?

does the liquefaction start right in the pipe and sent away with subsequent flushing?

what gets the 'caddy shack chocolate bars' on their way into the main sanitary sewer? what keeps the thousands of tonnes from piling up there?

is it a question of just enough 'floaters' to keep things flowing?

are we smarter than the Romans that invented indoor plumbing?

Posted by: beagle at February 28, 2011 11:37 PM

There are dung jokes in this somewhere but I will take the high road and refrain from telling them.

Low-flush toilets don't work and the bleach is an off-putting band-aid measure at best.

It wasn't just waste going down the tubes.

Posted by: Osumashi Kinyobe at February 28, 2011 11:38 PM

"marc in Calgary" is dead on. Dumping large quantities of hypochlorite bleach (a.k.a. "chlorine" bleach, "eau de javelle" etc.) into a sewer system
strikes one as a massively bad idea. It almost certainly won't work, for one thing, for a variety of reasons.

Hypochlorite as a disinfectant, together or after soap or detergent, works well (so it apparently has been banned in Vancouver).
But as a primary means for handling sewage - no. This is one instance where a real honest environmental assessment would be a good idea.

Posted by: John Lewis at February 28, 2011 11:43 PM

There will be no envirnmental assessment in San Fran,thats the cross the enviro's worship on so San Fran can do no wrong.

Posted by: spike 1 at March 1, 2011 12:04 AM

Let us see now,

As it is, a man appropriately named Mr. Crapper came up with the toilet tank after highly sophisticated tests on how much water one needs for a flush.
The test likely consisted of using different volumes of water to see how much water would do the job.
Funny thing, Mr. Crapper came up with one that worked, who knows, @130 years.

Then of course came super sharp scientists and by variables, calculations, algorithms, derivatives and other such, decided that real life sucks and they need some money too. So they came up with a smaller tank. If it does not work, well that’s not a problem, it is science after all. That one has got to flush twice with some regularity, is not their concern since it did not come up in the calculations, users just don’t know how to flush.

Now let’s follow the money.
The toilet manufacturers would make new toilets with smaller tanks and charge the same money as for the bigger ones.
The chemical companies would produce all different kind of poisons to turn the flushed stuff into something else for good cash.
Then they would have to come with something to neutralize the poisons with, another cash proposition.
One can imagine a whole superstructure of variety of conditionings and endless treatment until the taxpayer suddenly feels very light in the wallet and assorted paper pushers and freeloaders fill their pockets.

And that is why, the wise guys, invented new water tank.

Posted by: Lev at March 1, 2011 12:08 AM

The San Fran paper was just crammed with leftie stupidity today, along with the low-flow sloped foreheaded toilets was a story about the locals dumping everywhere they could in the Tenderloin district, causing a massive stink. I would think incontinence is a big problem in that area and that city in general, with a good portion of them completly expelling what little brains they had. Steward asked if I wanted the paper in Frisco, I said I need a good laugh, and got one.

Posted by: bartinsky at March 1, 2011 12:12 AM

Veritec Consulting has been conducting tests on toilets, showerheads, and other water related topics for years now, they issue an easily downloadable spreadsheet with +700 toilet's functionality tested to date...

Some of the w/c have tested to flushing +1000 grams, if you can picture pinching out a kilogram of poop, roughly a full sized print of Velveeta™ Cheese in one flush, while some barely manage 200 grams...

It's actually worth the few minutes of looking before you're stuck with one of the new units that don't actually work well at all, and they've "built" artificial poop, with more openness and accountability in their data that the global warmists have in theirs.
The w/c is a topic I'm well versed with...

Posted by: marc in calgary at March 1, 2011 12:13 AM

There are a few things they should think about. Bleach and ammonia.. chlorine gas. Bleach and acid..chlorine gas. Bleach, metal and organics..rust and corrosion.
As for the low flush, I had a 6L put in last year and it has been bombproof if you pardon the pun. I remember the early ones and they were not good but the top few brands are engineered to increase the force. The long shower should get things to the mains. Hey it was 6L or nothing..that's all they had.
The thing I noted was I got one of the few non-jet tubs left. I have an 80 gallon bathtub and a 6L toilet. One needs heated water and one doesn't.

Posted by: Speedy at March 1, 2011 12:23 AM

This is a very common problem in smaller communities, resorts etc. The low volume of water causes sewers to clog. Not hard to understand why. A bit like the little old lady who drives her Pontiac to church every Sunday, never warming it up. The exhaust pipe clogs up!

Posted by: Plainzryder at March 1, 2011 12:41 AM

Two things are necessary to pulverize the poop....grade and volume. Reduce wither one, and you get problems.

When a sewer system is working properly, the poop initially breaks down into the water as a very thin slurry, and flows just fine.

Reduce your water input, and, no velocity...

Ya gotta love the law of unintended consequences!

Posted by: DanBC at March 1, 2011 12:45 AM

I have one regular (old) toilet and one new low flow. Both work well. From what I read, it isn't a problem with the toilets working, the problem is in the subsequent sewer pipe - there isn't enough water flow to carry the waste properly after it's left your house.

Posted by: Dirtman at March 1, 2011 12:46 AM

Low-flow toilets are fine, just NEVER install one in your basement. The lower water volume needs the gravity of the pipe drop to keep it moving.

Posted by: Yukon Gold at March 1, 2011 12:54 AM

I'm not sure I agree that low flow toilets are the fault here although I don't like them. Rain water when trapped in a sewer will sour and stink and when it rains the odor diappears for weeks until the next collection of storm water sours.

Posted by: Hoosierman at March 1, 2011 1:58 AM

all slopes of sewage pipes where calculated on 5 gallon flushes in the developments up until the 80s. there are tables for these.

after having a sewage backup in our house once , just once , and forever once , the first of each month I start at the top floor flushing the toilets, turning on each and every tap , shower , tub and water appliance all the way to the basement and all the way back up to the top, all five floors , 5 sinks , 4 low flows .

there will never be another backup I swear.

also you can buy a floatvalve for the floor drain in the basement. seal like a well packer

Posted by: cal2 at March 1, 2011 6:17 AM

The words "green" and "technology" are two mutually exclusive concepts that should never be used together.

The geeens can't design a dumper that works.

Posted by: Occam at March 1, 2011 8:40 AM

Re: Crappers that don't work. I recall coming after an alleged clever, well edjumacated brother who installed a new bathroom and an unflushable toilet.
It was second story and he had the bright idea to introduce an immediate verticle drop of some 10'.
I cured the problem by installing a horizontal 6' section before the drop....It would nearly suck you in. The trick is without the horizontal section the waste pipe is not full hence no draw.

SF is obviously staffed with experts who have never taken Biology 101 and or understand how an IMHOF tank functions. This chemical solution was likely the product of a "studies" graduate.......

Liquifaction of the waste is done by anerobic oxygen in a sewer. The Sodium hypochlorate will tend to sterilize the waste and no decomposition occurs. IOW they will make a bad situation worse.

Sewage plants only use chlorine to treat the clear effluent prior to discharge....up to that point it's all bacteria....aerobic and anerobic.

I recall the Ontario Dairy Branch, of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, requiring ALL milk houses to have their drains connected to a septic tank and weeping bed. They did not work and rapidly filled with black sludge. It seems the amount of organic matter was slight and the amount of chemicals massive. This connunderum was solved when liquid manure was introduced and the milk house drained into the tank. The chemicals were massively overwhelmed by the organic matter.

A little knowledge is not neccessarilly a dangerous thing....and common sense is not very common.

Posted by: sasquatch at March 1, 2011 8:58 AM

When we were struggling to come up with contributions made by the Scandinavian people, I immediately thought of this:

"BioLet: Over 35 Years of Swedish Engineering

With over 35 years of Swedish engineering, BioLet has released their 6th generation of self-contained composting toilets. Constant improvements in our products have resulted in BioLet being the most advanced and easiest to use composting toilet in the world. Innovations incorporated into our latest line have resulted in the largest enhancement in the industry to date!"

I was honored to have had the opportunity to use the ones in the Visitor's Center at Peggy's Cove. Not only is there no need to connect to any plumbing system, every once in a while you have some lovely compost for your potatoes or other crop you care to grow. Seems like a win/win situation for San Francisco.

Posted by: rita at March 1, 2011 9:20 AM

I sandblasted and painted a draw bridge over the Rideau a long time ago that had a toilet for the operator with no plumbing.
The toilet had a chamber that once you closed the lid and hit the switch used natural gas or propane to burn everything.

Posted by: richfisher at March 1, 2011 9:40 AM

They have a sludge issue because there's not enough -water- going through the system. It would kill somebody to, you know, back a tanker up to the sewer and FLUSH it once in a while?

"The Sodium hypochlorate will tend to sterilize the waste and no decomposition occurs. IOW they will make a bad situation worse."

Excellent point. Not to mention all the nice bleach hitting the treatment plant and completely fragging the digestion system.

Is there something about San Fran that kills brain cells?

Posted by: The Phantom at March 1, 2011 9:41 AM

They have a sludge issue because there's not enough -water- going through the system. It would kill somebody to, you know, back a tanker up to the sewer and FLUSH it once in a while?

It also would not kill those damn hippies to take a shower every so often.

Posted by: Lickmuffin at March 1, 2011 10:03 AM

I noted in a series of photos of San Francisco's last gay pride parade (which most of the city is part of) many men were peeing in each other's faces. Is that part of a Eco plan to keep waste out of the sewage system.

Or ... would I be correct in stating that San Francisco has become one big sewage disposal plant where 'circling the bowl' is a way of life run by a bunch of piss-heads?

That's about all I could come up with this early.

Posted by: Abe Froman at March 1, 2011 10:08 AM

Oh sweet Saint of San Andreas.........

Posted by: CanuckInMI at March 1, 2011 10:13 AM

This thread seems to have predictably gone in the toilet!

Posted by: Snagglepuss at March 1, 2011 10:33 AM

You guys ain't seen i$ht til you've seen the waterless urinals in the men’s washroom in our new envio-friendly washrooms. By the afternoon, I won't even enter the rooms.

All of this is serious business in Saskatchewan as we are planning on building a new football stadium. You can sure as hell bet that the Green-tards will stipulate some enviro-nonsense and I implore the decision makers to install good'ol fashion sanitary urinals and toilets. I'm serious!

Posted by: Indiana Homez at March 1, 2011 10:37 AM

As a side note, I recently replaced our three toilets with these babies:§ion=2&category=13&subcategory=117

I love that the boxes in with the things came rate the toilets as being able to handle 1000 grams of waste per flush.

These are not sold as "dual flush", but I think they work that way: a normal touch on the handle sends liquid waste down with what seems to be an economical amount of water. A more complete depression of the handle sends the biggest load on its way with an authoritative plunge.

I hate to say it, but I love these toilets.

Posted by: Lickmuffin at March 1, 2011 10:43 AM

Phantom has an idea there. The tons of grey water coming out of their sewage treatment plant can be recycled to "flush" the lines so to speak. Maybe divert some storm sewer water when needed. Bleach is stupid, even for old hippies.

Another point about eco-flush toilets that North America seems to be missing is the Australian two step method. It is simply a button for a low water #1 flush and an other button for larger volume(cyclone) #2 flush. Worked every time that I could see.

Posted by: Texas Canuck at March 1, 2011 10:53 AM

Really when you look at it, the sewer system was designed to have a certain amount of water flowing through it. Won't work otherwise. That's a plain fact, as they say.

Public policy makers in SF decided -that didn't matter-. The sewer department guys obviously told them what was going to happen, probably in some considerable detail and probably in writing. Policy went forward regardless.

In private industry this is known as poor management. People get fired for this. In public life this is known as Liberalism, and people up until now have gotten promoted.

I think its time that people get fired for doing things they know aren't going to work, don't you?

Posted by: The Phantom at March 1, 2011 11:24 AM

Texas Canuck. My low flush is a normal handle, push down and let go small flush, hold it down 2 or 3 seconds and it's like a big flush.

Posted by: Speedy at March 1, 2011 1:27 PM

LOL. That lot continues to reap what they sow and STILL gain no knowledge at each iteration.

Posted by: Mazzuchelli's at March 1, 2011 1:27 PM

Mixing bleach with sewage will result in trihalomethanes which are known carcinogens!!

Chlorine is a highly reactive ion which is why you don't flush your chlorinated hot tub water into the septic tank either!!

The city administrators are a bunch of idiots, poisoning the environment with your tax dollars.



Hans-Christian Georg Rupprecht, Commander in Chief

1st Saint Nicolaas Army
Army Group “True North"

Posted by: Hans Rupprecht at March 1, 2011 1:53 PM

Hahahahaa, this reminds me of joke, something about shoving 10 turds down a 3 turd pipe ?

There are two things I know about plumbing.
(1) poop won't flow uphill.
(2) never shake the hand of a plumber.

Posted by: Ratt at March 1, 2011 2:30 PM

I have to question this. For one thing, every "low-flow" toilet I've ever used needed to be flushed twice. So theoretically, they still put out at least 3/4 of what the original crappers used.

Posted by: mojo at March 1, 2011 2:33 PM

If SanFran is going to piss $14 million away trying to remedy this problem, why not do it literally? Subsidize beer and let the local population wash away the problem with their collective bladder power? Redneck Rangers to the Rescue!

Posted by: Dan S. at March 1, 2011 3:52 PM

San Francisco being as deviantely progressive as it is, I wouldn't have thought that firm turds plugging up the works would be a problem.

A Depends shortage maybe!

Posted by: old duffer at March 1, 2011 7:38 PM