PISMO BEACH, Calif. - Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach is one local business that is committed to saving water in this time of extreme drought. The popular restaurant, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, has been using a "flushless" urinal since opening four years ago.
"There's no flushing because we keep ice in the urinal to have a contestant flow of water through the pipe, allowing the urine to drain through the pipe freely and to prevent odor," said Neil Miller, floor manager at Ventana Grill.
According to Miller, the system saves between 30,000 to 32,000 gallons of water per year. "It just makes sense to not be wasting water in a facility that uses so much in other departments, washing dishes, things of that nature."
Miller says the restaurant only uses a few scoops of ice daily for its two urinals. "The ice itself extends the life of the filter by allowing water to drip through and because there is an amount of mineral in urine, the water flow actually prevents the drain from getting clogged."
Miller adds the filter, which needs to be changed on an occasional basis, includes a liquid membrane inside. "So it sits on top of the water and the urine and it allows that to flow through the filter, preventing any odors from coming up and out."
Flushless urinals have been around for more than 10 years and are also in use at Ventana Grill's sister restaurants Mr. Rick's and Custom House in Avila Beach. The three restaurants combines save more than 200,000 gallons of water each year due to the flushless systems.
Customers might not be accustomed to seeing ice in a urinal, but they're happy to see local businesses doing their part in this time of need. "It's great seeing that restaurants are taking that opportunity to save as much water locally here," said Carlos Rosas. "It's saving water, it's something new, everyone should be conserving water."