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Enjoy & Learn

To flush or not to flush

This summer’s dry weather turned London into the water-saving capital of Europe, and one local politician into a somewhat awkward sanitary advisor. The drought, the worst since 1976, plagued the country where–on the one hand– there are two separate taps meant to save water by making us plug the sink, and–on the other–the privately-owned water companies lose 36 million litres of water daily (!) through pipe leakages.

Interestingly, a Londoner needs more water than his counterpart in the British provinces– 165 litres every day, compared to the national average of 150 litres. So much water used daily is about a third more than in any other European city! The British-style toilet cistern may be partly to blame here. Apparently, the “flush volume” (note the scientific term) of an average English toilet is as much as 11 litres of water. It’s a shamefully large amount, especially compared to the ultra-modern dual-action economical Scandinavian toilets with only 4 litres (full flush) or 2 litres (partial flush) of water used per one visit in the loo. Breathtaking.

But English people unite in crisis. When the prolonged heat wave endangered London’s water supplies, its mayor Ken Livingstone took action. Verbal action, that is. In a dramatic address, he appealed to his loyal citizens to “modify their lavatory habits.” Ehm, excuse me? To those less familiar with political lingo, Mayor Ken rushed to explain what he meant in his typically straightforward way: “Don’t flush if you have just had a pee.” No kidding, that’s what he said.

Jerzy Chyb


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