With the U.S. in the grips of a deadly coronavirus pandemic and only three months away from a pivotal election, President Donald Trump is flexing his lawmaking powers to address a personal pet peeve: showerheads.
The Trump administration proposed new rules this week that would nix water-saving measures and increase the pressure of showerheads produced in the U.S.
The proposal comes one month after the president griped at a press conference about washing his hair, saying that the water doesn’t come out fast enough from his showerhead.
“So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer?” he said on July 16. “Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect.”
Trump has rarely been photographed with his signature coif out of place. His few bad hair days appear to have been caused by wind, not showers.
The president has also complained in the past about water-saving standards around sinks and toilets. In December, for example, he described a titanic struggle to flush a toilet, without providing specifics.
“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once,” Trump claimed during a meeting with small business leaders at the White House.
It’s unclear who he was referring to, or what they were trying to flush.
The existing showerhead standard requires each one to pour out no more than 9.4 litres (2.5 gallons) per minute total, regardless of how many nozzles it has. That rule was imposed in 1992 during George H.W. Bush’s presidency and later tweaked under Barack Obama to apply to heads with multiple nozzles.
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The Trump administration’s proposal would allow 9.4 litres of water to gush out of each nozzle, rather than from the entire showerhead.
The Trump administration’s Energy Department also proposed easier standards on clothes washers. The Trump administration says its regulatory rollbacks save average American households $3,100 a year. However, critics say the change would boost homeowners’ water bills due to the increased flow.
An Energy Department spokesperson said the changes are about “allowing Americans — not Washington bureaucrats — to choose what kind of showerheads they have in their homes.”
Conservation groups have described the changes as unnecessary and wasteful, particularly given the droughts seen along the U.S. West Coast in recent years.
Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said the change would be a loss for energy conservation efforts.
He told The Associated Press that with four or five shower nozzles, “you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute power out of the showerhead, literally washing you out of the bathroom.”
DeLaski and officials at Consumer Reports said there’s been no public outcry or need for change. The Department of Energy’s own database of 12,499 showerheads showed 74 per cent of them use 7.6 litres (two gallons) or less water per minute, which is 20 per cent less than the federal standard.
“Frankly, it’s silly,” deLaski said. “The country faces serious problems. 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.”
—With files from Reuters and The Associated Press