“The message is clear, and often written on toilet paper: ‘Get the government out of my bathroom!’” So said Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Feb. 8 as he introduced HR 623, a bill seeking to repeal the low-flow plumbing standards enacted under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992. The bill has gone through the House Commerce Committee and is currently being reviewed by the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
“This bill would begin to restore common sense to our government,” Knollenberg said to his House colleagues, “by repealing the ridiculous federal mandates on toilet size and showerhead flow, 1.6 gallons and 2.5 gallons per minute, respectively. I first became aware of the problems our national plumbing laws have created when I began to receive complaints from a variety of frustrated individuals (who) were upset their new, expensive toilets were repeatedly clogging and consistently required multiple flushes. If some consumers want tiny toilets or trickling showerheads, the economy will provide these products without the burden of federal decrees,” Knollenberg said. “Unfortunately, our failed policy on plumbing fixtures has strangled the market (and) created innumerable headaches.”
As it did when the bill was first introduced in 1997 (it was withdrawn last year), the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (PMI) strongly opposes the Knollenberg bill. “PMI supports fully the uniform national efficiency standards in EPAct,” PMI states in a position paper, “and opposes any effort to repeal current law. The technology for low consumption plumbing products has advanced dramatically, and each new generation of products brings improved performance and functionality. Now is not the time to abandon the water conservation goals underlying these standards.”
A statement signed by 24 organizations (including PMI, American Water Works Association, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association and American Supply Association) also opposes HR 623.
“With over half of all indoor residential water use taking place in the bathroom, improved water efficiency in new toilets is central to most water conservation efforts,” the statement notes. “The regulatory stability provided by current federal law is very important to the U.S. plumbing industry. It allows businesses to bring improved products to a national market, rather than spend time and money designing products for differing flush volumes, flow rates, test procedures, certification requirements and labeling rules, all of which could vary by state and local jurisdiction if federal standards were repealed. Our message is straightforward,” the statement concludes, “efficient plumbing products work, and efficient water use is an important national concern.”