Portland's new solar-powered toilet open for business

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by By kgw.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 15 at 11:00 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The City of Portland unveiled the first in a line of new solar-powered public toilets that will be popping up throughout the city Monday and it's now open for public use.

The first area to get a "loo," as it's called, was Old town, on 6th Avenue and adjacent to the Greyhound Bus Station. It was officially opened for business at 11 a.m., Monday and comes with a price tag of $140,000.

Tour the "loo"

At the unveiling, mayor-elect Sam Adams gave the fancy new toilet its first ceremonial flush and Commissioner Randy Leonard was awarded with an honorary golden plunger.

Leonard helped design the prototype. "We're patenting the design and we intend to actually market them," he said.

The design includes several special components including heaters around the water lines to keep them from freezing in the winter, solar panels, and a skylight on the roof, among other features.

The loo is also designed to discourage vandalism and illegal behavior inside, with a raised wall so the feet of the people using it are visible.

Leonard said even though model number one of the Portland Loo cost $140,000, it could end up making the city money through mass production, selling at $25,000 apiece. "We're keeping our fingers crossed that a production model will be very reasonable. I've had a lot of inquiries in the United States and Canada about purchasing them," he said.

Officials said Old Town was selected as the first location for the loo because the area has a large homeless population, along with many late-night bars and and clubs. The city has wanted to provide a restroom that can be open 24 hours a day in the area.

Leonard said that eventually, the city hopes to install loos in other high-need areas like Old Town. The future installation and marketing of the loos will be coordinated by the Portland Water Bureau.

If the Loo is profitable, it would also add to the Portland Water Bureau's bottom line, thus, reducing the customer's water bills, Leonard said.

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