Water Flow Proposal Ignites Showerhead Controversy

September 3, 2020

The government is trying to change regulations so that showers can spray more water. The Department of Energy recently announced a new proposal to change how much water a showerhead can release each minute as it seeks to get more water flowing out of showers. That could mean the trend of installing multiple showerheads in luxurious residential bathrooms would spew out significantly more water pressure.

Under the new proposal, each showerhead included in a product with multiple showerheads could output 2.5 gallons per minute. That is significantly more than current standards allow.

In 1994, the Department of Energy limited the flow rate on residential showerheads from 5.5 to 2.5 gallons of water per minute. The rule was to conserve water. But as new shower head fixtures emerged boasting multiple nozzles, the need for more speed in water pressure has grown. Homeowners have been limited to a total of 2.5 gallons of water per minute for water pressure even with multiple nozzles.

In other words, if a home has four nozzles for showerheads, all four nozzles together must meet that 2.5 gallons limit, under current guidelines. However, the new proposal would allow each nozzle to pump more water. So a shower with two heads could release 5 gallons of water per minute.

The proposal came after reportedly President Trump complained about getting too little water from his shower. In July, he joked with reporters that he couldn’t get enough water to wash his hair properly.

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy, told The Associated Press that the new rule would allow Americans more freedom to choose what kind of showerheads they have in their homes.

The proposed rule has been met with controversy. Some opponents have criticized the new water guidelines as being excessive and a waste of water. With four or five or more nozzles, “you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute powering out of the showerhead, literally probably washing you out of the bathroom,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of Appliance Standards Awareness Project, an energy conservation group, told the Associated Press. deLaski adds that existing appliance and plumbing energy and water conservation standards save homeowners about $500 a year on energy bills.

“The country faces serious problems,” deLaski continues. “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.”

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates showers account for nearly 1.2 trillion gallons of water use daily—about 17% of all indoor water use in the U.S.

Public comments on the proposed rule, published in the Federal Register on Aug. 13, runs until Sept. 14.

DOE Solicits Comments on Proposed Changes for Showerheads,” NAHBNow.com (Aug. 24, 2020) and “Trump Administration Proposes New Showerhead Rules,” FOX News (Aug. 13, 2020)