The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed modifying restrictions on the amount of water that can flow through shower heads, to allow for increased flow.
The DOE says the decision to revert to an earlier standard was about following the law and expanding consumers’ options.
As part of the federal government’s effort to force people to conserve water, under the 1992 Energy Conservation Act DOE imposed a regulation limiting the amount of water that could flow through a shower head’s nozzle to no more than 2.5 gallons per minute.
Consumers complained about low water flow from the shower heads manufactured to meet the federal water standards. Companies responded by producing multi-headed or multi-nozzled shower heads. In response to the increasing use of multi-headed shower heads, the DOE under the Obama administration in 2013 tightened the restrictions on water flow, imposing the 2.5 gallon per minute limit to each shower regardless of the number of shower heads or nozzles it had.
Responding to Consumer Complaints
The DOE reports it has received numerous complaints about the shower head mandate established under Obama.
Among the harshest, most visible critics of the Obama-era DOE’s energy and water use efficiency rules has been President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly complained about the poor functionality of dishwashers, light bulbs, shower heads, and toilets designed to meet the stricter standards imposed by the Obama administration.
“Shower heads—you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said at a public event on the south lawn of the White House in July, discussing his administration’s regulatory reform efforts. “You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer?”
Under the DOE’s new proposal, the 2.5 gallon limit would again apply to each shower head or nozzle. Under the new rule, if finalized, a shower with two heads could release five gallons a minute, and one with four could release 10 gallons per minute.
Expanding Consumer Choice
The Obama administration’s water use restrictions were contrary to the standards recommended by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers when the original law was enacted in 1992, and also to the intent of Congress, DOE spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes told the Associated Press.
“If adopted, this rule would undo the action of the previous administration and return to Congressional intent, allowing Americans—not Washington bureaucrats—to choose what kind of shower heads they have in their homes,” Hynes said in an email to The Hill.
DOE reports approximately 75 percent of shower heads on the market use 20 percent less water than the maximum allowed under law, and some fixtures use just 70 percent of the flow allowed.
Consumers concerned about water conservation will still have access to low-flow shower heads, because nothing in the Trump administration’s proposal would change that. The rule, if finalized, will simply allow consumers the option of choosing a shower head with a stronger water flow, if they so desire, says Hynes.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (email@example.com) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute.