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Eco-friendly open air urinals cause uproar in Paris

Posted: 6:14 AM, Aug 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-14 10:14:56Z

An attempt by officials in Paris to tackle public urination by installing open air urinals, or "uritrottoirs," has outraged some residents of the French capital.

The new urinals, housed in flower boxes, aren't subtle -- they're fully exposed on street corners, painted bright red, and have nearby signs advertising their presence.

One in particular, located near the Notre Dame cathedral, has drawn attention for its view of the River Seine.

The "intelligent urinals," which have a straw layer that eliminates odor, were installed in areas where public urination is a problem,  according to a statement  from city officials.

Officials say the urinals are eco-friendly -- they will harness nutrients in waste to produce compost for parks and gardens. According to the statement, one year of a person's urine holds enough nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to fertilize 400 square meters of wheat.

However, these features have done little to calm the ire of local residents, who have written to the town hall in protest.

"I think installing a urinal in the streets of Paris for those who don't respect their surroundings is a good idea, but in my opinion, this model is not attractive at all, and where it's been set up is not appropriate at all," one man told reporters.

Another resident complained, "it is definitely a desirable and historic neighborhood, but seeing people urinating right in front of your door is not the nicest thing."

Ariel Weil, mayor of the 4th district of Paris,  tweeted in defense  of the urinals on Monday, calling them "an invention of genius." Four have been installed so far, with a fifth being planned.

Paris isn't the first European city to install outdoor urinals. Amsterdam has had them for years, and cities in Belgium and Australia have also  trialed them .