OLD-STYLE toilets are to be flushed into the history books -- Environment Minister John Gormley is to ban them from November 1.
And the move to dual flush cisterns is expected to save half a billion litres of water a year, enough to provide the Greater Dublin area's needs for a day.
The major water-saving initiative signed yesterday will see traditional WCs replaced with the newer dual flush models in new-build properties and homes where lavatories are being replaced.
Brought in under the amendment to Part G (Hygiene) of the Building Regulations, the switch is intended to reduce water consumption and should see household water savings of up to 10pc a year. It is estimated that one third of all drinking water produced by treatment works is used to flush lavatories, and old-style toilets use between six and nine litres per flush.
But dual flush toilet cisterns give users two options -- a short flush which users four litres of water and a longer flush which uses six litres. The environmenttally-conscious move was first mooted in 2006 by Mr Gormley's predecessor, Dick Roche. An assessment of whether a ban would work found that only one out of five visits to the WC warranted a full flush. It is estimated that five flushes are made per person per day.
"When applied to current annual housing projections, dual flush toilets in new dwellings should reduce drinking water consumption by approximately 10pc in these dwellings, or by almost 500 million litres of drinking water every year. This is equivalent to the total volume of water consumed in the Greater Dublin area every day," Mr Gormley said.
"As our economy and population increases, so does the demand for water. Water is a precious resource and should be used wisely. Treated water is expensive to produce.
"Wasting water means unnecessary expense to the consumer and producer, puts undue pressure on our raw water sources and can lead to environmental degradation."
Only dual-flush toilets will be available at supermarkets, DIY and plumbing supplies stores and hardware shops from November 1, and Mr Gormley said other water-saving measures would be introduced.
However the Department of the Environment has said there are no plans to introduce water metering for domestic customers.