December 10, 2019
President Donald Trump’s mind is in the toilet—but not necessarily in a bad way, for a change. Complaining that “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once” in homes with low-flow appliances, the president said on December 6 that he wants the EPA to review water efficiency standards in bathroom fixtures, The Chicago Tribune reported.
He said other bathroom fixtures have slowed water flow to a trickle. “You can’t wash your hands practically, there’s so little water comes out of the faucet, and the end result is you leave the faucet on and it takes you much longer to wash your hands, you end up using the same amount of water,” Trump said at an event with small-business owners at the White House.
According to the Tribune report, the president said it was “common sense” to review standards he said resulted in showers with water “quietly dripping out” and toilets that “end up using more water” because of repeat flushing.
Trump has championed rolling back regulations since taking office in 2017, with a focus on environmental rules imposed or proposed during the Obama administration. The president routinely portrays himself as a champion of clean air and water, while his critics say he’s weakened regulations intended to fight climate change, conserve resources and promote clean air and water.
While the president said the Environmental Protection Agency was looking at the standards “at my suggestion,” the Tribune pointed out that a review of the WaterSense program was mandated under 2018 legislation passed by Congress that said the agency should look at any regulations adopted before 2012. That means the government is forced to revisit specifications for tank-type toilets, lavatory faucets, and faucet accessories, showerheads, flushing urinals, and weather-based irrigation controllers.
Use of low-flush toilets started in the 1990s after President George H.W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act. That 1992 law said new toilets could use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. The law went into effect in 1994 for residential buildings and 1997 for commercial structures.
But the government has also said that the water savings make a difference—particularly in bathrooms, which represent more than half of all indoor water use. The EPA says an average family can save $380 in water costs per year and save more than 17 gallons per day by using appliances certified to WaterSense standards.
Research contact: @chicagotribune