The Biden administration will revert to an Obama-era shower-head policy that former President Donald Trump relaxed last year, a move Trump had suggested would prevent a number of Americans from needlessly taking longer showers, himself included.
The shower regulation dates back to a 1992 law that stipulates that a showerhead cannot deliver “more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The law, the U.S. Energy Policy Act, also established minimum efficiency standards for other household water fixtures, such as faucets.
But in 2010, Steven Chu, the Obama administration’s self-described energy efficiency “zealot,” started pursuing an interpretation of the law stipulating that multiple nozzles counted as one showerhead. As such, the Obama administration’s eventual interpretation made it so that the water coming out of each nozzle could not add up to more than 2.5 gallons per minute in total.
This interpretation of the law was later questioned by Trump, whose own Department of Energy determined late last year that, when a single shower has multiple nozzles installed, each nozzle could be allowed to spray up to 2.5 gallons of water per minute and remain in compliance.
During remarks at the White House last summer, Trump took aim at the Obama administration’s interpretation of the shower rule, and also questioned the overall efficacy of the policy.
“You take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” said Trump. “You 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.”
“They take a shower and water comes dripping out,” Trump said in 2019, in separate comments about water efficiency standards. “Just dripping out, very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once, they end up using more water.”
Trump’s shower policy finally took effect in December. But now, in the latest stage of the decade-long back-and-forth, President Joe Biden’s administration will revert back to the Obama-era interpretation.
The Department of Energy, in a statement to The Associated Press, lauded the shower-head regulation as a “common sense proposal,” particularly amidst droughts, which are affecting many areas on the West Coast of the United States.
“As many parts of America experience historic droughts, this common sense proposal means consumers can purchase showerheads that conserve water and save them money on their utility bills,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
According to Market Watch, the Department of Energy has suggested that the latest interpretation of the law won’t have a significant effect on the showerhead market, because few manufacturers have actually made changes based on the Trump policy.