NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Law Flush With Unintended Consequences

April 2, 1999

Dallas, Texas, has become the regional hub of a flourishing illegal industry due to a 1994 federal law requiring newly manufactured toilets to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush, says the Dallas Morning News. Consumers complain the new toilets become clogged too easily, and that it takes two or three flushes where one once sufficed.

  • As a result, there is a flourishing business in second- hand toilets, which are refurbished and sold -- often to be installed in new custom homes.
  • Real estate agents and contractors report widespread toilet hoarding among their clients.
  • Some homeowners are purchasing the old-style, high- capacity brands in Mexico or Canada and are bringing them across the border.

However, in Texas, it is illegal to sell any toilet that does not appear on the approved list of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the agency charged with enforcing the law, and penalties range from $25 to $500 per each illegal unit sold.

Manufacturers have come out with high-tech, vacuum-assisted flush commodes to combat problems with the low-flow toilets. But high end models sell for $250 to $400, and a Japanese firm has produced an electronic toilet that retails for about $1,000.

H.R. 623, a bill to repeal the federal toilet mandate, has 30 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Source: Mary Candace Evans and Stephen G. Michaud, "Swirling Controversy," Dallas Morning News, April 1, 1999.


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