Biden orders return to low-flow showers, nixes Trump reprieve from environmentalist showerhead rules
WASHINGTON (AP) — So much for Donald Trump’s quest for “perfect” hair.
President Joe Biden’s 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.
A department official 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, said the official, who insisted on anonymity because the rule change had not been made public.
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, reverts to the Obama-era standard. 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.
The Energy Department also is proposing to remove the definition of “body spray” adopted in the 2020 final rule. The rule allows “body sprays” to circumvent congressional intent to promote water conservation simply based on orientation of the water flow — a side spray rather than overhead.