Yesterday, Trump’s administration finalized the rollback of water efficiency standards on showerheads and other consumer appliances, many of which have been in place for almost three decades. The impact this rollback has goes well beyond the water waste that will come from people taking showers with multiple showerheads with new, larger flow rates. This ruling impacts business, innovation, and housing/water affordability, all at a time when businesses are struggling to remain profitable, and one-in-four adults report having trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started. 

The Rollback

The U.S. Department of Energy’s showerhead rule allows each showerhead to reach a limit set by Congress, instead of each showerhead in a fixture counting to the limit collectively. The limit was 2.5 gallons per minute as the maximum flow rate set in the 1990s. What does this mean? Someone can now have multiple showerheads on at once, all wasting much more water than is necessary.

In addition to showerheads, the Department established separate product classes for residential washers and dryers that have cycle times of less than 30 minutes and meet lower efficiency standards.

This rollback comes on the heels of Trump announcing regulatory changes to the National Environment Policy Act to speed up the process approval for getting environmental reviews for infrastructure projects. He also shared his disdain for poor water flow in sinks and toilets — claiming we are flushing toilets too much and having difficulty washing our hands.

The Impact on Business

The efficiency rollback is a slap in the face to companies that have been investing and innovating in the water efficiency space–many of which have been for decades. A glimpse at the EPA’s WaterSense approved products shows hundreds of options for innovative, water-efficient showerheads alone.  

It’s also hard to believe this ruling is coming at a time when investors and companies are rallying around sustainability and responsible investing. The hope here is we’ll see businesses and innovators continue to focus on sustainable solutions. Similar to how municipal, state and local governments and the private sector rose to the occasion and focused on sustainable investments despite Trump’s regulatory changes the last four years. 

Impact on Environmental Services

At EcoSystems, we have spent the last eight years educating property owners about the benefits of installing water and energy-efficient fixtures and appliances. We have enabled them to experience a boost to their bottom line, as well as made an exceptional impact on the environment, together saving more than 3 billion gallons of water and more than 120 million kwh and 85,000 metric tons of CO2. 

What does this anti-competitive ruling mean for the companies, like us, who have built our business model around proving that conservation is good for business? 

Impact on Housing Affordability

America is experiencing a water poverty crisis – with bills rising 80% over the last decade. Higher water flow from showerheads means higher water bills. Higher water bills result in more money out of pocket for homeowners and renters, and potentially higher rent in order for landlords to cover increasing utility costs. 

On top of affordability, U.S. homes already waste one trillion gallons of water a year as it is. What will happen to our climate crisis and long-term drought when the efficiencies stop? 

At the end of the day, this ruling is rewarding those who are wasteful and allows for products that needlessly waste energy and water. Who needs five showerheads to clean themselves at the expense of the environment? And why should we trust companies to set their own efficiency standards when we have a well functioning WaterSense program? 
Our pledge is to continue to support water efficiency and conservation – and we will continue to fight for what is right for the environment. Join us, along with the Alliance for Water Efficiency, in reaching out to the incoming Biden Administration to advocate for a reversal of these rules.