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Bathroom to Bay: How old toilets are being transformed into a sea life habitat in Tampa Bay

TIERRA VERDE – As one of the most popular tourist destinations, Tampa Bay has an abundance of hotels and other properties. As those properties are updated over time, replaceable items like old toilets are sent to landfills. Tampa Bay Watch and Tampa Bay Water are exploring ways to find more sustainable solutions for the toilets.

"They build oyster reef balls out of concrete which helps to support the growth of oysters throughout the Tampa Bay area," said Amelia Brown with Tampa Bay Water as she explained the work done at Tampa Bay Watch. Both agencies have teamed up to help reduce waste. They're taking old replaceable toilets and - rather than sending them to landfills – they're recycling them into habitats for sea life.

"We crush old, water-guzzling toilets into little pieces and mixed it into the concrete mixture that was used to make the oyster reef balls."

Organizers say 85% of oyster habitat has been lost in the Tampa Bay area due to human activities. Amelia Brown, who helped spearhead the pilot program says it's a great way to replace your toilet and save water."Toilets that are from 1993 or earlier use 3.5 gallons or more per flush. But new, high efficiency water sense certified toilets use only 1.82 gallons per flush." That's a 60% reduction in water use per flush.

But she didn't want to create one environmental problem while solving another.