Army changes spec to waterless urinals

BY ROBERT P. MADER OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF ARLINGTON, VA. The U.S. Army's Facilities Policy Division and Installation Management Agency have changed the specification for new construction and major retrofits to now specify waterless urinals. The change is effective in October. "The Army Standard for non-water using urinals is hereby approved," states a July memo from the assistant chief of staff for

BY ROBERT P. MADER
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF

ARLINGTON, VA. — The U.S. Army's Facilities Policy Division and Installation Management Agency have changed the specification for new construction and major retrofits to now specify waterless urinals. The change is effective in October.

"The Army Standard for non-water using urinals is hereby approved," states a July memo from the assistant chief of staff for Installation Management, which officially announced the change. "This standard is effective immediately for FY07 and beyond MILCON projects or major repairs not yet solicited. Retrofits will replace urinals using more than 1 GPF if criteria in March 2005 technical evaluation are met.

"The Army Installation Design Standard entry in Chapter 3.1.3 will be changed to read 'Urinals. Non-water-using urinals are an Army Standard for new construction and major repairs. It is a best practice to replace existing urinals using more than 1 GPF if retrofit criteria are met IAW Waterless Urinals, Technical Evaluation, March 2005.'"

If any Army construction planner wants to use standard flush urinals, the memo states, the Army Facilities Standardization Subcommittee must approve any planned deviation from the standard before designs are finalized.

The specification now reads: "ASME A112.19.2M, white vitreous china, wall-mounted, wall outlet, non-water using, integral drain line connection, with sealed replaceable cartridge or integral liquid seal trap. Either type shall use a biodegradable liquid to provide the seal and maintain a sanitary and odorfree environment. Install with urinal rim 432mm 17 in. above the floor. Provide ASME A112.6.1M concealed chair carriers. Installation, maintenance and testing shall be in accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations. Slope the sanitary sewer branch line for non-water use urinals a minimum of 1/4 in. per ft. Drain lines that connect to the urinal outlet shall not be made of copper tube or pipe. For urinals that use a replaceable cartridge, provide four additional cartridges for each urinal installed along with any tools needed to remove/install the cartridge. Provide an additional quart of biodegradable liquid for each urinal installed."

Urinal manufacturers will need to plan for travel to Army construction projects, because the last sentence in the specification says, "Manufacturer shall provide an operating manual and onsite training for the proper care and maintenance of the urinal."

Annette L. Stumpf, an Army architect at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Lab in Champaign, Ill., wrote the technical evaluation. Waterless urinals, she wrote:

  • Save up to 45,000 gal. of water per year;
  • Require no freeze protection;
  • Lower electrical use needed for effluent pumps;
  • Eliminate infrastructure cost to provide fresh water;
  • Reduce septic load and treatment time;
  • Require no installation or maintenance costs for flush handles, valves, sensors or water supply piping;
  • Require no batteries, transformers or other electronics; and
  • Are environmentally friendly.

The use of waterless urinals is consistent with federal executive water and energy conservation requirements, and help projects earn Sustainable Project Rating Tool or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design credits.

Stumpf's economic analysis showed that initial installation cost and annual reoccurring costs vary by vendor, but simple payback time typically ranges between six months and three years for new installation and retrofit. Annual savings vary depending on the flush volume of replaced urinals, the number of uses per day per fixture and the cost of water and sewer.

Each waterless urinal replacing a 1.0-GPF unit with 75 uses per day at Seattle water and sewer costs of $6.83 per 748 gal. could save between $250 and $875 per year. This reflects the deferred cost of 27,375 gal. of water and sewer per year used by a new urinal, or 95,812 gal. per year for an older 3.5-GPF urinal. Including maintenance costs for replacement fluid and/or cartridges (between $45 and $120 per urinal annually), the waterless alternative would yield a net savings between $130 and $830 each.

Stumpf made a few other recommendations. For retrofits, the installer must make sure that the drain line slopes at least 1/4 in. per ft., and the drain line cannot be made of copper, which urine corrodes. Some manufacturers recommend cleaning the drain line first, although buildup inside the lines usually comes from minerals or lime scale from the water.