Instead of Focusing on Pandemic, Trump Turns Back Regulations on Showerheads and Washing Machines

The Trump administration has relaxed a regulation restricting water flow from showerheads, a pet peeve of President Donald Trump, who complained that he wanted more water to make his hair “perfect.”

Since 1992, federal law has dictated that showerheads shouldn’t spew more than 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) of water a minute. As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple nozzles, the Obama administration updated the ruling, stating that 2.5 gallons was still the limit regardless of how many nozzles were running. The new ruling, issued on Tuesday, now says each showerhead can emit 2.5 gallons a minute.

“So showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said last summer. “You want to wash your hands? The water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect.”

Also this week, the Energy Department issued a ruling that sets no limits on energy or water use for new washers and dryers with short cycle times in their “normal” setting. The rule sets up separate product classifications for residential clothes washers and dryers with cycle times of fewer than 30 minutes and 45 minutes for front-loading washers.

The Energy Department said the rule on washers and dryers lets manufacturers offer new products that meet consumer demand for products with shorter cycle times. Environmental advocates had a different response.

“With millions of washers and dryers sold in the United States every year, the rule announced today could lead to higher utility bills and additional carbon emissions from powering them,” said the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It also comes at a time when areas of the country are increasingly subject to extended droughts and can’t afford to waste water through unnecessary regulatory loopholes like the one just created by DOE.”

“Changing the rules to address one of President Trump’s pet peeves is simply silly,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said.

Joanna Mauer, a senior research manager at the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, wrote, “Notably, no one asked for this rule,” and that President-elect Joe Biden’s administration “should move to quickly reverse both today’s rule.”

For much of the past year, Trump has taken aim at the water standards governing toilets, showers and other household appliances as part of his broader efforts to roll back regulations.

Speaking to reporters at the White House last December, Trump said his administration would be “looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms” at his direction, insisting that “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once,” and that “they end up using more water.”