The Truth [and lack thereof] About Trump’s Toilet Debate

On Dec. 6, Trump ordered a federal review of water efficiency standards in bathroom fixtures, claiming that “people are flushing 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once” in homes with low-flow toilets and appliances. He made similar claims for faucets that slow water to a trickle, and showers with water “quietly dripping out.” Saturday Night Live even took aim recently after Trump repeatedly denigrated efficiency in his rallies. 

Trump’s bathroom frustration follows his initial repeal of the 2015 water rule and coincides with the review of the WaterSense program, which launched a 20 percent reduction in water use on toilets and a 32 percent reduction in water flow in faucets. The review is a result of a 2018 mandate passed by Congress, forcing the government to look at specifications for toilets, bathroom faucets and showerheads. 

As water scarcity continues to be one of the greatest threats to humanity in the 21st century, and basic water affordability becomes more of a challenge, Trump is flushing his champion of the environment self-portrayal down the toilet. 

The Facts

We’re living in a time of urgent need for conservation accentuated by predictions of acute water shortages. According to a 2014 report, 4 out of 5 U.S. state water managers expect water shortages over the next decade. With this in mind, Trump’s proposed solution of relying on developing water usage standards by levels of rainfall is absurd and irresponsible.

The WaterSense approach is effective, focusing on where the majority of waste originates–the bathroom. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 20 percent of all toilets leak 200 gallons of water each day, mostly due to failing equipment and lack of awareness of simple water-saving solutions. 

In addition to water waste, affordability continues to be a concern. According to a 2017 Michigan State study, water could be unaffordable in up to 35 percent of U.S. households by 2022 – just two years away. This is no surprise when, according to the EPA, over the next 20 years the U.S. must invest $271B for wastewater/stormwater upgrades and $384B for drinking water upgrades. Every year, there are roughly 240K water main breaks resulting in utilities losing 1.7T gallons or $2.6B worth of treated drinking water (CircleofBlue.org). Aging water and sewer lines are forcing utilities to update their infrastructure, and subsequently, consumers are left with increased utility bills.

Making Sense of WaterSense 

The EPA says an average family can save $380 in water costs per year and more than 17 gallons per day by using appliances certified to WaterSense standards. As costs continue to rise, savings are more important than ever. 

The good news is local and state incentive programs across the country are motivating large properties like apartment communities to conserve water and energy. Cities like Denver have implemented rebate programs, offering to pick up the tab for residents who replace wasteful old toilets with WaterSense models, in addition to high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles and smart irrigation controllers. 

EcoSystems empowers large properties to meet the water and energy conservation standards set by these programs by retrofitting bathrooms for the entire building. By significantly reducing leakage and installing low-flow toilets and fixtures, properties are saving on average 31 percent off their utility bills, which are in turn, reducing utility costs for an estimated 143K Americans. Additionally, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and offer green loan incentives for apartment communities, for example, one community received a $376K rebate to replace their toilets–on top of utility savings. 

After upgrading more than 71.5K bathrooms across the country, putting $17.4M back in the pockets of property owners, and most importantly, saving more than 2B gallons of water, we believe that EcoSystems is proof that WaterSense does indeed make complete sense.