Joseph Cramer, M.D.: Save the world, one flush at a time

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  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 11, 2014 6:20 p.m.

    PP: "Sometimes I wonder if people even read others posts before criticizing them."

    I know exactly what you mean.

    PP: "We are, in fact consuming the exact same ELEMENTS that the dinosaurs consumed." [emphasis added]

    Right, but not the same molecules, which was my point. If you had a superfine Sharpie and could mark the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a particular water molecule in the Mesozoic with a red X, your odds of finding those same three atoms bonded together as the same water molecule a minute later (let alone millions of years later) are infinitesimal. The river is constantly reorganizing itself.

    PP: "Lets see you do that with Iron Ore."

    Actually, that's much easier than repopulating an extinct species. As you rightly pointed out, the elements are always with us (law of conservation of matter). Metals are infinitely recyclable. The problem is it takes energy (read money) to gather diffuse metal atoms together into usable form, i.e. to push entropy back a bit by concentrating the atoms. But we do this through mining, milling, smelting, and refining. We aren't likely to ever run out of iron, but we might run out of economically attainable iron.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 11, 2014 3:54 p.m.

    Lagomorph - as for your parents... They are obviously getting ripped off.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 11, 2014 3:52 p.m.


    Sometimes I wonder if people even read others posts before criticizing them.

    My "socialist" solution? Really? First - taxes are supposed to pay for infrastructure, not things like planned parenthood and kickbacks for unions, so a desalination facility or a water pipeline is not a socialist plot. Second, I never said anything about the govt doing it (nor would I), I just said it was easily possible.

    Your argument about water constantly dissociating, plants photosynthesizing and humans metabolizing is inaccurate (to say the least). Those functions do not "destroy" water nor do they take it out of the closed system that is the Earth. They simply change the state where the water (or H and O molecules) exist. Other processes (decomposition, sweating, etc)restore it to it's H2O state.

    We are, in fact consuming the exact same elements that the dinosaurs consumed. So you can actually step in the same river twice.

    As for your TIC (I hope) example of Dodos and pigeon - they are commodities. If you found a male and female Dodo you could repopulate the species. Lets see you do that with Iron Ore.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 11, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    PP: "Name one single natural resource we have run out of."

    I hear it is very difficult to find roast passenger pigeon, with a rosemary rub and sage stuffing, served under glass with a side of poached dodo eggs, on a menu at a fine restaurant anywhere.

    As you say, water itself is plentiful, it's the distribution of usable water that is a problem. Your socialist solution (government redistribution) could be solved more readily with free market price mechanisms. I pay less for water in SLC (12" precip/year) than my parents in the humid midwest (40" precip). How crazy is that?

    BTW, water is constantly dissociating at the molecular level into H+ and OH- ions. We create water when we metabolize food, just as plants destroy water when they photosynthesize (converting it to carbohydrate). You really can't step into the same river twice, figuratively or literally. It's a common misconception that you might be drinking water a dinosaur waded in.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 11, 2014 12:48 p.m.

    About potable water - it is extremely easy to take any level of dirty water and make it potable. There are even very low energy solutions to clean water.

    As for lawns... Once established a nice Kentucky Bluegrass lawn uses the same amount of water as a lousy-patchy desert grass lawn. If you want to xeriscape go ahead - but don't try and force others to conform to your opinion based standard of what is appropriate. If you want to convince me then fine, but passing laws to force my hand is immoral.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    March 11, 2014 12:29 p.m.

    An entire years water savings from one of these toilets is completely wiped up with one watering of the lawn. It seems we are focused on the wrong thing.

    There may not be a world wide shortage of water as others have pointed out, there is perhaps a shortage of potable water, a very big difference.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 11, 2014 12:02 p.m.


    There are so many science based problems with the whole 1 gallon toilet mania that it is a wonder anyone in their right mind thinks they are a good idea. But like any bad idea they are forced on all of us by the government and environmental crazies that don't think anything through.

    The facts:
    - The earth is a closed system. 100% of all water used is recycled back into the system.
    - The Earths surface is over 70% water and all life on the earth uses only a tiny fraction of it. There is hardly a world wide water shortage.
    - The problem is an easily solvable distribution issue - not a lack of water issue. Governments just don't want to use tax dollars for distribution. It would take money away from all the "get me reelected" pork barrels.
    - "Low flow" toilets require a lot more flushing both to get everything down and for cleaning, so even if there is a water saving it is nowhere near the amazing numbers stated in this article.
    - Name one single natural resource we have run out of. The answer - there isn't one, and we aren't even close.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    March 11, 2014 11:43 a.m.

    To "Lagomorph" I have no problems using the low flow toilets, however, we should realize that we are wasting a lot of the water once it hits the treatment plants.

    Once the water is processed through the waste treatment plant, it is dumped into a river or is left to evaporate. With a little more effort, that sewage can be turned into drinking water and put back into the system. If that is too much of an ick factor for you, you can always send it back underground to be filtered again before the city pumps it out again.

    We don't have a problem with not enough potable water. What we have a problem with is not recycling enough of the water.

  • coloreader fowler, CO
    March 10, 2014 7:57 p.m.

    from our experience, yes the low flow toilet has caused problems getting toilet contents all the way to the septic tank. we have the liquid/solid buttons on the top of the tank and we have to always push "solid" to push more water through, or we will get clogged up. Taking baths also helps get more water through, which I realize isn't water conserving.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 10, 2014 7:40 p.m.

    They are a lot better unit than they were when they first came out.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 10, 2014 6:22 p.m.

    Bravo to the doctor for taking a small step towards prudent use of resources. May the lawn be next. It probably represents a better ROI in terms of water conservation.

    When 2.8-3 gallon low flow toilets became the norm, I heard some stories of downstream problems in older homes because the pipes did not have sufficient gradient to carry the load all the way to the mains, resulting in clogging over time. Is this a legitimate concern? Does reducing the flush volume even more increase this risk?

    Are the local city building codes ready for composting toilets that use no water at all?