As a plumbing contractor, I remember the response when the first generation of 1.6-gallon-per-flush (gpf) toilets hit the market in 1994: People hated them. They didn’t clear the bowl of solids and often left dirty porcelain. In the years since, plumbing manufacturers have redesigned their products so they are now less likely to clog.

The 1.6-gpf standard was a step forward, but in the face of drought and population growth, it has not been enough to eliminate water shortages, which are a serious problem in western states like California, Arizona, and Texas. Florida and other southeastern states are grappling with water problems as well. As a result, there has been an ongoing...

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