Biden Administration To Replace Trump’s Showerhead Rule

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Caroline Kucera Contributor
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President Joe Biden is ditching showerhead rules put in place by former President Donald Trump that allowed more water to flow out of a shower per minute.

After reviewing Trump’s policy for months, Biden has decided to revert to the 2013 Obama-Era standard on water flow, which allows for 2.5-gallons-per-minute.

Biden is also attempting to eliminate the definition of “body spray” Trump adopted, which was described as a “shower device for spraying onto a bather other than from the overhead position.” Trump argued a “body spray” should not fall under the umbrella of a showerhead, hence, it should not be subject to the 2.5 gallon limit.

The Department of Energy (DOE) reportedly said the change will allow consumers to save money by reducing water use and paying lower energy bills, according to  The Associated Press.

“As many parts of America experience historic droughts, this commonsense proposal means consumers can purchase shower heads that conserve water and save them money on their utility bills,” Kelly Speakes-Backman, acting assistant secretary for the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said Friday. 

In December 2020, Trump loosened restrictions that limited how much water could flow, claiming the DOE’s regulations did not allow him to maintain his “perfect hair.”

“So showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said at the White House in July 2020, according to The Associated Press. “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.”

In 1992, Congress ruled that the maximum flow for new showerheads was 2.5-gallons-per-minute. Newer showerheads with multiple nozzles led the DOE under Obama to specify the 2.5-gallon rule applied to the overall output of the shower, not the output per individual nozzle. 

Trump lobbied to reverse Obama’s amendment, and let each nozzle reach the 2.5-gallon-per-minute mark individually, according to The Associated Press. This could mean a shower with four or five nozzles would pump out 10 to 15 gallons of water per minute, Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said.

The move by Trump faced backlash, with many people voicing concerns for water conservation, climate change and droughts.

“Frankly it’s silly,” deLaski said in August 2020, according to The Associated Press. “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.”

According to the DOE’s database, 74% of 12.5 thousand showerheads monitored use just two gallons of water or less water per minute. This is 20% less than the 2013 federal standard, according to The Associated Press.

“There is absolutely no need to change current showerhead standards,” said David Friedman, vice president of Advocacy at Consumer Reports and a former acting assistant secretary for the DOE in August 2020. Friedman said Obama-era standards for showerheads perform well and “achieve high levels” of customer satisfaction. 

The Biden Administration will reinstate the 2013 regulations. Biden’s proposed rule change is set to be published in the Federal Register and will undergo a 60-day public comment period before final regulations are set, according to CNN

All showerheads on the market currently comply with the 2013 rule, according to The Associated Press.