The US government is looking at easing regulations on shower fittings following complaints from President Donald Trump who has regularly railed against water conservation rules in his quest for ‘perfect hair’.
On Wednesday the Department of Energy (DOE) said it was proposing to amend the definition of a showerhead to allow multiple showerheads on a single fitting, which would get around water conservation measures brought in under president George H.W. Bush.
The 1992 rules established a maximum water use of 2.5 gallons per minute for showers but the amendment means that will apply to each showerhead rather than a single shower fitting.
The announcement comes after Trump complained about the lack of water pressure in showers.
But consumer and conservation groups said the Department of Energy’s proposed loosening of a 28-year-old energy law that includes appliance standards is ‘silly’, unnecessary and wasteful, especially as the western US bakes through a historic two-decade drought.
‘Showerheads – you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,’ he said in July at the White House announcing a rollback in regulations.
‘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? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect.’
Since 1992, federal law has dictated that new showerheads should not pour more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple nozzles, the Obama administration defined the restrictions to apply to what comes out in total, so if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons should come out between all four.
The new proposal would allow 2.5 gallons from each nozzle.
With multiple nozzles, ‘you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute powering out of the showerhead, literally probably washing you out of the bathroom’, said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project.
Bathroom fittings and water pressure have long been a bugbear for the president.
In December he told reporters the Environmental Protection Agency would be ‘looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms.’
‘They take a shower, the water comes dripping out, it’s dripping out very quietly, people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once, they end up using more water,’ Trump said.
‘So EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion.’
Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said the plan was part of Trumps’ ‘repeated false complaint that toilets, faucets, and other household fixtures have been ruined by federal efficiency standards.’
‘DOE proposed a rule to approve new showerheads that waste enormous amounts of water and energy, which would increase utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions,’ he said in a blog post.
Mr deLaski and officials at Consumer Reports said there has been no public outcry or need for change. The Department of Energy’s database of 12,499 showerheads showed 74% use two gallons or less water per minute, which is 20% less than the federal standard.
‘Frankly it’s silly,’ he said. ‘The country faces serious problems. We’ve got a pandemic, serious long-term drought throughout much of the West. We’ve got global climate change. Showerheads aren’t one of our problems.’
Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said the 2013 Obama definition of a showerhead clashes with what Congress intended and the standards of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
If the rule is changed, Ms Hynes said it would be ‘allowing Americans – not Washington bureaucrats – to choose what kind of showerheads they have in their homes’.
Appliance and plumbing energy and water conservation standards save consumers about 500 dollars (£382) a year on energy bills, Mr deLaski said, and if people are having trouble getting water flowing in their shower, they should check their home’s water pressure and can replace a faulty showerhead for a small amount.
Mr deLaski said he has a hard time understanding Mr Trump’s concerns, adding: ‘If the president needs help finding a good shower, we can point him to some great consumer websites that help you identify a good showerhead that provides a dense soak and a good shower.’