Trump showerhead rule on more water flow goes down the drain

Matthew Daly
Associated Press

Washington – So much for Donald Trump’s quest for “perfect” hair.

The Biden administration is reversing a Trump-era rule approved after the former president complained he wasn’t getting wet enough because of limits on water flow from showerheads.

Now, with a new president in office, the Energy Department is going back to a standard adopted in 2013, saying it provides plenty of water for a good soak and a thorough clean.

The rule change will have little practical effect, since nearly all commercially made showerheads comply with the 2013 rule – the pet peeve of the former president notwithstanding.

Water flows from a showerhead on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Portland, Ore. The Trump Administration wants to change the definition of a showerhead to let more water flow.

The Energy Department said the action clarifies what’s been happening in the marketplace. Showers that provide the extra supply of water desired by Trump are not easily found, officials said.

Since 1992, federal law has dictated that new showerheads should not pour more than 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) of water per minute. As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple nozzles, the Obama administration defined the showerhead restrictions to apply to what comes out in total. So if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons total should come out among all four.

The Trump-era rule, finalized in December, allows each nozzle to spray as much as 2.5 gallons, not just the overall showerhead.

A proposed rule change, set to be published in the Federal Register next week, reverts to the Obama-era standard. The public will have 60 days to comment before a final rule is developed.

The change will ensure that consumers continue to save money while reducing water use and paying lower energy bills, the Energy Department said. Officials estimated that the Obama-era rule saved households about $38 a year, and the Energy Department expects similar savings by reverting to the 2013 standard.

“As many parts of America experience historic droughts, this commonsense proposal means consumers can purchase showerheads 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.

While publicly talking about the need to keep his hair “perfect,” Trump made increasing water flow and dialing back longstanding appliance conservation standards – including for light bulbs, toilets and dishwashers – a personal issue.

But consumer and conservation groups said the 2020 rule change was silly, unnecessary and wasteful, especially as the West bakes through a historic two-decade-long megadrought.