The proposed Plumbing Standards Improvement Act of 1997 is no improvement says the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (PMI). Last month PMI members agreed to fight a new bill that would repeal federally mandated standards forced upon the industry in 1992. The proposed act would repeal mandates from the Energy Policy & Conservation Act of 1992 and restore water flow rates back to levels well above the current 1.6 gpf for toilets and 2.5 gpm for shower heads.

“I’ve spoken to about two-thirds of the fixture manufacturers and they want things left alone or apply American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards as opposed to the federal law,” says Dick Church, PMI’s executive director. This is what manufacturers preferred in 1992, but environmentalists did not trust in limits assigned by industry standards. Set to meet with advisors this month, PMI plans to issue a position statement challenging the bill. PMI’s statement will point out that rather than reducing regulation of the bathroom, the bill potentially could create thousands of local regulations as more than 3,000 state and local communities nationwide may choose to determine flow rate requirements.

The bill has popular support on Capital Hill among anti-regulator proponents who believe “keeping government out of our bathrooms” will demonstrate the kinds of deregulation they believe their constituents want, according to PMI’s vice president of government affairs, Cece Kremer. The bill is gaining momentum on The Hill via the sponsorship of Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI), who represents Michigan’s most affluent House district, and whose staff is rumored to travel with old full-flow shower heads to provide more comfortable showers. Currently, Knollenberg is receiving help from House Speaker Newt Gingrich to get the bill to the floor. “My guess is that there is some room for compromise,” says Church. Rep. Knollenberg’s office did not return PM’s calls.

At deadline — NAPHCC officials are meeting to discuss their position on the bill. They will issue a position later this month. PM will provide updates on the progress of the legislation.