Singapore—Under the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) Home Improvement Programme, 30-year-old public housing estates may avail themselves of upgrades, including for its plumbing fixtures for toilets. However, while these fixtures are actually designed to save money, they may actually end up wasting water instead of conserving it.
According to one citizen whose piece was published in TODAY, the toilets offered under HDB’s Home Improvement Programme may end up doing the exact opposite of what they were intended to do, which is to save water, and he has now decided that he will not avail himself of the new eco-toilet on offer.
Chin Kee Thou wrote that where he lives in Toa Payoh, five blocks of apartments qualify for the upgrade, including its toilet refurbishing of “new pedestal pans, a wash basin with a tap, and other features.”
The refurbishing of Toa Payoh estate, which is 34 years old, is scheduled for the latter half of this year.
There are two kinds of toilet pedestal pans that residents are being offered. One is the regular toilet flush system. The other is an “eco -flush” toilet. This type is installed with a basin on top of it, for the purpose of washing one’s hands, so that the water used in hand washing may be then used for flushing since it goes to the tank for to be used this way.
Instead of water going into the cistern, as is what happens with regular toilets, water used for washing is what is used to flush the toilet, which sounds like an ideal solution for saving water.
However, the writer argues why this is not necessarily so. For one thing, if no one uses the tap for hand washing, there is no stored water for flushing. This means that people will have to wash their hands despite not having the need to do so, which would result in wasted water.
Having two sinks may solve part of the problem, the author pointed out, but the majority of residents said that they would not have a separate sink just for washing hands if their toilets had basins on top of them, so that they would not need to clean two sinks along with the toilet bowl. Older residents, especially, may not have the energy to manage cleaning all three.
Another problem is soap residue blocking and clogging the flush system, which would require additional maintenance.
Furthermore, “In 1991, the Government introduced a water-conservation tax to encourage water conservation and deter excessive use. The eco toilet runs counter to this campaign, and I have decided against having it in my flat,” the author wrote. “The HDB should be mindful of water efficiency when offering such options to residents.”
Some netizens agreed with Chin Kee Thou, writing about their own experiences when the eco-toilets did not work as efficiently as expected.
But others pointed out that these kinds of toilets have long been in use in Japan, and that they actually are efficient and effective in saving water.