SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah senator applauded the Trump administration for looking to end “showerhead tyranny” with a proposal to ease water efficiency standards the president says are messing with his “beautiful” hair.
“I love the fact that the Trump Administration is putting an end to showerhead tyranny! Why should this be a federal regulation in the first place?” Republican Sen. Mike Lee tweeted Thursday.
I love the fact that the Trump Administration is putting an end to showerhead tyranny! Why should this be a federal regulation in the first place? https://t.co/ew9vf8pRap— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) August 13, 2020
Unlike the president, Lee having to wash his closely cropped hair in a low-flow shower probably isn’t as much of a factor in his praise of the plan. He more likely finds government intrusion into showers all wet.
Federal law restricts the flow of new showerheads to no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple heads, the Obama administration defined the restrictions to apply to the flow in total. So no more than 2.5 gallons total should come out regardless of the number of nozzles.
The Department of Energy proposal Wednesday would allow each head to spray as much as 2.5 gallons.
The plan comes a week after Trump complained about water flow problems last Thursday while speaking at a Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Clyde, Ohio.
“You go into a new home, you turn on the faucet, no water comes out,” the president said. “You turn on the shower — if you’re like me, you can’t wash your beautiful hair properly. You waste 20 minutes longer. ‘Please come out.’ The water — it drips, right?”
Trump has turned increasing water flow and rolling back long-standing appliance conservation standards, including for light bulbs, toilets and dishwashers, into a personal issue.
Consumer and conservation groups say the proposed easing of the 28-year-old energy law that includes appliance standards is unnecessary and wasteful, especially as the West suffers from a prolonged drought.
“The new plan is a gimmick in search of a problem,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project.
“Complaints about inadequate showerheads were frequent decades ago, immortalized in a 1996 “Seinfeld” episode. But for many years now, we’ve had a fix for poorly performing models, one that requires no action by the Trump administration.”
“Tired of a shower that produces more of a weak sprinkle than an invigorating stream?” Consumer Reports asked readers in 2009. “Change your showerhead.”
In the wake of years of innovation, including the improved use of aeration, the magazine found that “the top water-saving and rain-shower models we tested provide a strong flow.”
Today, about three-quarters of the showerhead models for sale use at least 20% less water than the maximum allowed, according to Appliance Standards Awareness Project’s count of a federal database.
And while there are always going to be some subpar models, the top-rated one on the product review website Wirecutter (which testers said delivers a “powerful, dense soak that envelops your entire body”) uses only 70% of the water permitted by federal rules, according to the group.
“If the president needs help finding a good shower, we can point him to some great consumer websites that help you identify a good showerhead that provides a dense soak and a good shower,” deLaski told the AP.
DeLaski said the issue was actually debated a decade ago. He said the Energy Department had a more “clear-eyed” reading of the law then.
“It has always been the department’s view that when Congress used the term ‘any showerhead’ it actually meant ‘any showerhead’ — and that a showerhead with multiple nozzles constitutes a single showerhead for purposes of the water conservation standard.”