Cal/EPA Deputy Director of Communications Lindsay VanLaningham confirmed that all 56 waterless urinals have been removed and replaced with flush urinals. "I obviously can't speak to actual use, but there have been hundreds of complaints," the spokeswoman said.
News10 spoke with a number of male Cal/EPA employees about the waterless urinals. "They were nasty," said one. Users reported strong odors and floors wet with splashed urine.
VanLaningham said the agency was spending an inordinate amount of money cleaning the floors around the waterless urinals. She said the $25,000 spent on replacing the waterless fixtures will be covered by lower maintenance costs within six months.
News10 was alerted to the removal of the fixtures by an anonymous source who apparently works in the headquarters building and noted the irony of the state's lead environmental agency removing the water-saving fixtures.
A large sign outside the men's restroom on the second floor still touts the benefits of waterless urinals, claiming each one saves 40,000 gallons of water each year. The sign says the urinals use the same technology developed by NASA for spacecraft.
VanLaningham said the agency tried two different brands of waterless urinals just to be sure the problems weren't caused by any particular design. She said facilities staff ultimately determined the existing plumbing in the high-rise wasn't suitable for waterless fixtures. "I think it's a great technology. It just didn't work for us," she said.
VanLaningham pointed out the new urinals use just a half gallon per flush as opposed to the 1.6 gallons used by the original urinals installed when the Joe Serna, Jr. - Cal/EPA Headquarters Building opened in 2001.