Dan at Young Philly Politics and ACM at A Smoke Filled Room have both posted about Inga Saffron’s article in the Inquirer this weekend about the Plumbers' Union and their opposition to “waterless urinals” being installed at the Comcast Center being built at 17th and JFK. Waterless urinals - as the name suggests - use a lot less H2O than the standard type. They're also less labor intensive to install (less labor = fewer plumbers). The short-term implication of this obdurate behavior – if effective - is that the building couldn’t apply for tallest “green building” in America status; the long-term impact could be the thwarting of a broad range of water conservation efforts and millions (maybe billions?) in extra costs for the City’s water utility and customers.
What can we do? I’m not sure. It seems like this is one of those defining policy crossroads that we in Philadelphia so often find ourselves at; are we going to move forward, or are we going to stagnate and let the dinosaurs drag us back? I’d prefer progress and I suspect many others would as well. Maybe if enough of us contact the Department of Licenses and Inspection’s Commissioner – Robert Solvibile at firstname.lastname@example.org we can get the City to move this in the right direction. I sympathize with the Plumbers' Union. I know they want to maintain as many jobs as they can; however, the cooper and farrier had to deal with technological progress at some point (not as many barrels to be made or horses to shoe as there used to be) and so will the plumber.