ENGLEWOOD — If you’re an eco-conscious person who wants to conserve water each time you flush, “urine” luck.
Englewood resident Richard Liebel has invented a “home urinal,” a system that attaches to a conventional toilet and uses far less water than a conventional toilet — 15 ounces, the lowest in the industry — Liebel says.
“I could run the urinal for 14 days with the same amount of water as (a low-flow toilet), to give you an idea of the consumption,” he said.
Liebel worked on the product after a discovering on his utility bills that he and his wife were using 3,000 gallons of water a month.
“It always occurred to me that a lot of water goes down the toilets. Then I thought, ‘What’s somebody to do about it?’” he said.
As Liebel worked on the solution, he was inspired by the Bill Gates Foundation’s international water conservation efforts.
“It wasn’t just here, of course, it was around the globe,” Liebel said. “I started to pick up more information from magazines. It seems like there was no end to the problems with fresh water.”
After completing the initial design, Liebel built the device using fiberglass left over from auto repairs. He drilled a hole through his toilet into the drain system and connected the urinal prototype.
He sought help from Bob Burkeholder, a neighbor and volunteer at SCORE, a nonprofit organization that specializes in getting small businesses started through mentoring and guidance.
“I did not make any initial judgment about his idea, good or bad,” Burkeholder said. “What I tried to do is help through the very complex process of taking an idea into the marketplace.”
The neighbors discussed intellectual property issues, getting patents and such. “I’m not an attorney,” Burkeholder said. “I just held a lot of patents in my day, and I’ve been around the process a bit.”
Burkeholder credits Liebel’s attention to detail.
“He’s one of the very few people who has successfully submitted a utility patent,” Burkeholder said. “He’s done a tremendous amount of research in the patents and all the technical details that involve applying for a patent. It’s valid.”
Liebel is still awaiting final approval for the patent. For more information, call 941-697-8359.