Meeting Date:

July 20, 2009





Darby Fuerst,




General Manager

Line Item No.:




Prepared By:

Stephanie Pintar

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Approval:  Counsel will provide feedback at the meeting.

Committee Recommendation:  N/A

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


SUMMARY:  District Rule 25.5, Table 4, Ultra-Low Consumption Appliance Credits, includes a water use credit for installation of Ultra-Low Flush Half Gallon-Per-Flush Toilets.  On July 9, 2009, District staff was notified that this type of toilet is temporarily unavailable due to overseas production problems and that half-gallon per flush toilets would not be available for at least six months to one year.  Microphor is the only company that produces half-gallon per flush toilets and, according to Microphor, production has stopped and there is no stock of these toilets available.  As a result, staff requested the Board Chair’s authorization to stop issuing Water Permits that include water use credit for half-gallon per flush toilets until the Board could discuss the issue at its July 20, 2009 meeting.


It has also come to the District’s attention that the Microphor toilet is not Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) certified.  Although the District has approved this type of toilet for a Water Use Credit, the jurisdictions may not approve its installation.  This issue will be discussed at the Building Officials chapter meeting on July 16, 2009, and staff will report on the building officials’ position at the Board meeting. Staff will also provide information at the Board meeting regarding the number of half-gallon per flush toilets permitted by the District.


Staff is recommending that the Board adopt Resolution 2009-10 (Exhibit 18-A) to amend Table 4 of Rule 25.5 to delete credit for half-gallon per flush toilets immediately.  Other issues related to this action are discussed below.


DISCUSSION:  Board direction is needed at the Board meeting as there are builders and property owners currently contacting the District who are unable to secure the half-gallon per flush toilets required by their Water Permits.  These people are unable to comply with requirements of their Water Permits due to the production and stocking issue.  In addition, the non-certification of the toilets for residential uses may present a separate set of concerns that will be presented at the Board meeting.  If the jurisdictions will not approve the Microphor toilets, should the District continue to require the installation or maintenance of these toilets?  The Board needs to discuss and provide direction on the following questions.  Staff has provided bullet points for discussion under each question.


1.      What is the Board’s position on applications that have received planning approvals for a project that relies on water use credit from half-gallon per flush toilets to add new fixtures?





2.      What is the Board’s position on existing Water Permits that required half-gallon per flush toilets that have not been finalized?  The District is being contacted because there are no half-gallon per flush toilets in stock.  Without the half-gallon per flush toilets installed, the project can not comply with the permit conditions. Without compliance, occupancy is withheld.





3.      What is the Board’s direction regarding existing property owners who want to upgrade their half-gallon per flush toilets because of performance issues, unavailability of parts, or unavailability of trained repair personnel?



RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends the Board adopt Resolution 2009-10 Amending Table 4 of Rule 25.5.  The Board should also provide direction to staff for each of the three questions listed under Discussion.  Staff should also be directed to notify the jurisdictions, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Builder’s Exchange, Microphor and property owners of the Board’s action. 


BACKGROUND:  The Board originally approved a list of water use credit “incentives” in October 1992.  The half-gallon per flush toilet was added to the list in 1994, but was not widely used until about 2000 when the jurisdictions’ when the jurisdictions’ water accounts declined.  The half-gallon per flush toilet uses compressed air to enable the flush and requires an air compressor to operate the toilets.  In May 2003, District staff requested authorization to survey water permit applicants and homeowners that had one or more half-gallon per flush toilets installed between 1994 and 2003. 


Staff proposed the survey in response to concerns expressed by residential users of the half-gallon per flush toilets.  Specifically, concerns were received by the District that (1) the toilets and/or air compressors required regular maintenance and adjustments, (2) there was a shortage of local plumbers familiar with the toilets, (3) the toilets sometimes leak or fail to flush properly, (4) property owners were known to replace the half-gallon per flush toilets with higher flow toilets once a final permit inspection was conducted, and (5) there were noise problems associated with the air compressor (including the one located in the District’s office on Eldorado Street).  Staff wanted to assess whether the District should continue to offer an incentive for installing these types of toilets, or whether the practice should be reconsidered.  In addition, the District received several requests from property owners that installed half-gallon per flush toilets to enable the addition of a second bathroom prior to Ordinance No. 98 who wanted to upgrade upon adoption of the second bathroom protocol. 


Feedback from the survey conducted by the District was clearly negative.  Complaints ranged from performance to repair issues.  Specifically, there were problems with “splash back” of toilet contents, repair costs and unfamiliarity of plumbers with the half-gallon per flush toilets, air compressor noise and the inability to use the toilet during electrical outages.   


On August 21, 2003, the Board Chair directed staff to immediately suspend water use credits for half-gallon per flush toilets due to the negative feedback received from users of these fixtures.  Staff was directed to continue processing complete water permit applications that had been received prior to August 22, 2003, but to refuse any future applications that propose the half-gallon per flush toilets to offset new water uses.  The half-gallon per flush toilet was deleted from Table 1, Residential Fixture Unit Count, for the first reading of Ordinance No. 111.  Half-gallon toilets were added back into the ordinance during the second reading and have been available as an optional water use credit since 2004.



18-A    Resolution No. 2009-10