As water resources continue to become strained by overuse and contamination, finding ways to conserve water is more important than ever before, especially in large cities. However, quantifying in-home water usage and efficiency can be difficult for end userse.

One major source of inefficiency? Old and outdated models of toilets. Dr. Austin Polebitski has been researching how the age of a building correlates to the age of the toilets being used within that building, and verifying his work  with city-provided water usage data.

Description of Research

Dr. Polebitski is well-versed in civil engineering and has experience in post-doctoral research, consulting, and teaching. When it comes to water usage in densely populated cities, he recognizes the urgent need to maximize water savings, while preventing the need for the development of costly new water resources such as additional wells or reservoirs.

During Dr. Polebitski’s summer undergraduate research program, he and his students visited 50 homes to collect data on what toilets were being used. Their findings proved that the water demand signals collected by the city were indeed indicative of the age of the homes’ toilet fixtures. Dr. Polebitski’s method for identifying older and more wasteful toilets may have multiple applications in city-wide projects. If water usage needs to be reduced, the city has the option of buying new toilets for property owners to install.

Join our Research Group

Dr. Polebitski recommends participation in research projects to any undergraduate who wants the opportunity to experience a different, hands-on aspect of their education. Research experience helps students enhance their applications for graduate school while ensuring that they'll actually enjoy the experience of being enrolled in graduate school.

Or, as Dr. Polebitski puts it, "If you don't experience it, how do you know if you like research or not?"

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