Why are people who pee in the bushes sent to Urinetown? It's not like they're using up the limited water without paying — in fact, they're saving water.
"The Stink Years" *cue shudder* Basically, in past years, yes, this was allowed. But it meant that everyone's pee was all over your lawn, the roads, and everywhere. Which is not only disgusting, but horrible for hygiene and likely to help spread horrible diseases to your already-weakened-by-drought civilians. Very good reason to keep people from peeing in the bushes.
Except urine is sterile and urea, a major componant of urine, is broken down in the nitrogen cycle which can improve the health of plants. Chemical/sawdust toilets are also an option.
That doesn't account for defecation. Plus, Cladwell likely influences the requirement to keep funding for "Long term solutions" (And trips to RIO!) coming in. If no one pays their fees, Cladwell stops making money.
Maybe the thinking is that, if people have to pay to pee, they won't drink very much water. It's another from of rationing water (of which there might be more—alluded to in the "why don't we focus on hydraulics?" conversation.
Why didn't people just distill the water in their urine? I know Cladwell probably would not have allowed it, but why not after Hope takes charge? It should've become clear to the people after the drought started in force.
That's what "I See A River" is ABOUT. They do that, but it runs out eventually.
How can it run out? They drink the pee, which causes them to pee. This ain't rocket science.
What you're describing assumes a perfect conservation of material. I don't know much about pee distillation, but if we say 60% of pee can be distilled into drinkable water (the figure doesn't matter; the point is that it's less than 100%), then that's less and less water you're getting every time you go through this lovely process.
I think Little Sally brought that up, but Lockstock said that if they distilled or worked with any kind of hydroponics the story wouldn't happen, which is funny when you think about it.
Perhaps a more obvious alternative: why not use salty ocean water for toilets and save the fresh water for drinking/showering? Even distilling the saltwater could produce a little more usable water.
That's assuming that where they are is anywhere near the ocean. They could be landlocked, which would make more sense.
The biggest question I have is this; why don't people just move? Perhaps it's illegal, but a we've seen they clearly outnumber the police and could get away. Why not just strike out for somewhere that has water and wait for UGC to slowly shrivel and die? An even bigger plot hole when Hope takes over and it presumably isn't illegal to leave.
The drought is worldwide—in the epilogue, the Amazon River dries up completely. No matter where you went, you couldn't stay there permanently. Public amenities also seem to be very spread out ("I run the only toilet in this part of town"), so it's likely the citizens stay in an area of the town so they can always have a toilet nearby.