The nerds are blocking the toilets

By: Mike Muller

Are waterless toilets really the future of sanitation? Or are Bill Gates and the nerds barking up the wrong tree?

Last month, I complained about Tim Cook, chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple, one of the world’s biggest companies, and his enthusiasm for low volume showers. I always believe that we should not be too polite to important people, just in case they begin to believe that they are somehow different to the rest of us. So, in that spirit, let me step up and be bold: Bill Gates and his colleagues at the Gates Foundation are being stupid!

I say this because I have just been following another couple of days of ‘water experts’ talking about their bright ideas about toilets. Specifically, what they are telling us is that we shouldn’t use clean water to flush toilets.

Well, if I had a convenient river outside, I would use that instead. But most households can only afford one water connection. And the cost of putting a little chlorine into clean water that is going to be used to wash clothes is relatively small. So I am not expecting that the Joburg municipality will dig up the road any time soon to put in three pipes with three kinds of water (one to drink, the other to wash clothes and the last one to water the garden).

But many water experts, including ministers, are enthusiastic about waterless toilets. I suspect it is mainly Bill Gates’ fault. He got to be very, very rich by having good ideas. So, if he thinks waterless toilets are a good idea, we had surely better follow him.

I am now looking forward to his ideas for waterless clothes and dish washing. Because the alternative is going to be a lot of rather expensive fetching and carrying of bulk water products, perhaps delivered by in Microsoft’s driverless cars (or was that Google’s idea?).

Read more about this feature in Plumbing Africa November 2015 page 37.

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