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WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA-Hoping that private property owners will follow their lead, city officials here have announced plans to install several waterless urinals in public buildings and parks over the next several weeks in an effort to make a dent in a water shortage that one day could swirl into a problem as big as the state’s energy crisis.

West Hollywood Councilman Jeffrey Prang unveiled three of the water-free urinals at Plummer Park today. He was joined by officials from a local conservation group known as Heal the Bay, and by another group that is trying to restore Mono Lake–a once-massive body of water about 300 miles north of Los Angeles that the county has tapped for decades to serve its growing population.

“It’s time to test this new type of technology,” Prang says. The toilets, manufactured by LA-based Falcon Waterfree Technologies, collect waste in a specially sealed container at the bottom of the urinal to keep out odors and then periodically dumps the waste down the drain.

Two more of the urinals have already been placed in City Hall. If the six-month test is successful, more will be installed in other public buildings.

Each of the urinals can save about 40,000 gallons of water a year, says Falcon spokesman Jeremy Bernard.

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