The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Potty Talk/Environmentalism

One thing that has been on my mind (for more than a year now actually) that I’ve never really spoken of, is the urinals at Pro Player Stadium. Granted, this is a weird subject – probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever written about on this blog (well, maybe the Mr. Google person still wins). Pro Player Stadium has urinals that I think I have only seen in one other place (at the Port of Miami). These urinals are completely flush free, which is a weird concept at best, and a disgusting concept/reality at worst. Others before me have questioned how hygienic this sort of a set up actually is, as evidenced by the lengthy FAQ on JMG’s website (JMG is the maker of this product).

The benefit, of course, to this flush-free set up is that it saves water (there are also other benefits, but you’ll have to check out the FAQ yourself to learn of them). As many of you know (well, those of you who have looked down at a urinal or two in your day), it’s not uncommon for a urinal to use one whole gallon of water per flush. At somewhere like Pro Player Stadium this can add up to quite a bit of water over the course of a baseball game or a football season or a year. But these self-flushing urinals (or whatever the technology is called) proudly proclaim (it’s on the top of all of them) that they save 40,000 gallons of water per year because of their efficiencies. After checking out the website for these urinals (yes, it’s now official – everyone and everything has a website), it appears that this 40,000 gallon water savings per year is their standard estimate. In my mind this is too high. I can’t imagine the average urinal gets that kind of use.

(By now, if you’re still reading, you must be asking yourself why I care. Honestly, I’m not really sure. This is pretty weird. Not as weird as the post at The Hardball Times where the writer admitted to timing player’s times from home to third on triples. Yes, that’s definitely stranger than what I’m talking about here; especially when you consider the fact that the writer of the article admitted that, in order to provide everyone with valid times for each player’s triple speed, he watched each triple nine times and averaged the times using a fairly complicated heuristic. So I’m not so crazy after all, am I? It’s all relative)

40,000 gallons is a lot of water. To me, it seems like this is a preposterous sum of water to assume that switching from a standard urinal to a water free urinal could save you. At a gallon per flush… let me work out the math here… give me a minute… that would mean approximately 40,000 flushes per year. If you break that down by day, the average old-style urinal at Pro Player (or anywhere else) would have been flushed an average of 110 times per day, every day in order for each urinal to be saving 40,000 gallons of water annually. On an hourly basis, that would mean you would have to flush the urinal 4.56 times per hour, or once every 13 minutes. Keep in mind that this isn’t during normal business hours – it’s 24 hours a day, continuously. I suppose there are places like airports and train terminals that see this kind of activity, but I would have to think that it’s rare even at a stadium.

According to this source, there are 218 flush free urinals at Pro Player stadium. Based on JMG’s information, this would mean that Pro Player Stadium could expect to save 8,720,000 gallons of water every year just by using this fantastic technology.

I didn’t look this up, but work with me here. The Marlins play 81 games per year (not counting the playoffs every few years) at Pro Player Stadium; hopefully, they’ll draw 20,000 people per game, which totals to 1,620,000 patrons this season. The Dolphins play ten home games (including the pre-season and not counting their rare post-season appearance), and with 70,000 fans at each, that brings us 700,000 more fans . FAU football has a handful of games (let’s say 5 games with 10,000 people per, for 50,000 annually, and the stadium also hosts the annual Orange Bowl (another 70,000) and the occasional concert or truck pull (let’s call this 10 events at 50,000 people per – or 500,000 total). This brings the total number of patrons at Pro Player Stadium each year to 2,940,000. Obviously, not all of these folks are male, so let’s conservatively estimate that 75% of the patrons are men (this will make the water saving per person more achievable); our total number of annual men at the stadium is estimated at 2,205,000. In order for these 2 million men to use the urinals frequently enough to save the nearly 9 million gallons of water, each man who attends an event at Pro Player Stadium would need to use a urinal nearly 4 times per event they attend at the stadium (3.95 times to be exact).

We should also probably count the folks who work in the stadium and at the games. Let’s say there are 250 people who work year round at the stadium (all 365 days) and that these men use the urinal three times a day (not only are they always at PPS slaving away, but they are truly fascinated by this technology, so they use it as much as possible). By having these folks use the urinal technology instead of the urinal style we’ve all grown accustomed to over the years, almost 400,000 gallons of water will be saved every year. If you subtract those 400,000 gallons from the 8.7 million gallons the fans attending games would need to save in order to live up to the claims on the urinal, the average man would still need to use the urinal 3.77 times per game/event. This is just not going to happen, especially considering that the average event at the stadium is about three hours.

So what’s my point here? Well, I’m not really sure. This water free urinal technology sounds like a great thing. Apparently it’s clean, odor free, and cost effective – in addition to the water it saves. But the claims of saving 40,000 gallons of water per urinal per year seem to be a little outrageous to me. Is there no truth in urinal labeling? I just don't know what you can believe anymore...


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