Go boating on California waterways and you may run into something very few people outside of California are familiar with: floating restrooms. Yes, floating restrooms are a real thing. They are so real that California’s Division of Boating and Waterways is currently accepting grant applications meant to encourage the purchase and deployment of new units.
The floating restroom program is nothing new, and California has been doing it for years. Every year the state offers grants provided by a partnership between state and federal agencies. This year’s total grant amount is $840,000. Government agencies hoping to purchase their own floating restrooms can apply for grant money.
Keeping Sewage out of the Water
Floating restrooms are deployed for the express purpose of keeping sewage out of waterways. They are typically deployed in areas with heavy boating traffic but limited land access. Using one is as simple as pulling up, tying off, and boarding the vessel.
The Division of Boating and Waterways says that its floating restrooms have a 500-gallon capacity. That is quite impressive. The restrooms have recently been redesigned to comply with ADA guidelines as well. Now it is up to the Division to see to it that agencies have the necessary resources to deploy the floating toilets.
If you have never seen a floating restroom, it looks a lot like a larger version of the portable toilets seen at public festivals. Take one of those portable toilets, mount it on a floating platform, and equip it with a solar electric system and you have a floating restroom. The platforms are towed to their sites and anchored in place.
Keeping the Restrooms Clean
Perhaps the biggest challenge of deploying floating restrooms is keeping them clean. Alsco, a Utah company that specializes in washroom supplies, explains that restroom cleaning is an important part of encouraging people to use public restrooms. Simply put, people do not like using dirty restrooms.
If California hopes to maximize the use of their floating restrooms, they will make regular cleaning a priority. Whether that means sending cleaners to the sites or bringing the floating restrooms in for service, establishing a routine cleaning schedule is key.
Routine cleaning would obviously start with emptying storage tanks. Then the units would likely be hosed down and disinfected. Finally, fixtures would probably be replaced along with air fresheners. A thorough cleaning and sanitizing would prepare a unit for redeployment.
A Good Idea in Principle
At first glance, it might seem as though deploying floating restrooms is a waste of taxpayer money. But it is actually a good idea in principle. Floating restrooms help keep raw sewage out of waterways by giving boaters another option. So far, more than 260 units have been deployed on California waterways since the early 1970s.
Like so many things government attempts, the actual effectiveness of the floating restroom principle relies on placement, cleanliness, and a willingness among boaters to use them. The Division of Boating and Waterways claims that their floating restrooms keeps in excess of 1 million gallons of sewage out of California waterways annually. That is a lot of sewage.
Hopefully, state agencies will avail themselves of both the grants and the floating restrooms themselves. If the restrooms do indeed keep that much sewage out of public waterways, they are well worth the investment.
What do you think? Are there floating restrooms in your state? And if so, would you be willing to use one while on the water? The floating restroom concept is certainly an interesting one. It makes for a viable restroom facility even away from land.