Efficient plumbing not top of Trump’s arsenal
Proposed cost cutting at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threatens the WaterSense program, a voluntary public-private partnership initiative to encourage the use of water-efficient toilets, showerheads, faucets and other plumbing products. Through the use of the more than 16,000 WaterSense product models on the market, the nation has already saved more than 1 trillion gallons of water over the past 10 years.
WaterSense is similar to Australia’s WELS labelling scheme which has been a resounding success in terms of saving water and making consumers for more aware of the need to reduce water consumption. The one real difference is that WELS is a mandated program and WaterSense is voluntary.
The US plumbing industry, headed by their suppliers association Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), is taking the fight up to the Federal Government to plead for continuity of the WaterSense program, which is a relatively small budget item under the EPA that supports the administrative program behind WaterSense.
It will be interesting to see if over the next few months the sector is successful in lobbying the Trump administration to reverse its decision.
A new report, ‘Saturation Study of Non-Efficient Water Closets in Key States’, released by PMI and the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), has found water-efficient toilets could potentially save up to 170 billion potable gallons of water per year.
The report focuses on the US states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia and Texas, which have all experienced serious water shortages. It found that 170 billion gallons of water per year, or 465 million gallons per day, could be saved if non-efficient toilets in residential properties are replaced with water-efficient ones.
“This study affirms the important and sometimes overlooked role that water-efficient plumbing products – and programs such as the EPA WaterSense label – play in assuring water sustainability for our nation. We are nowhere near the potential of water savings we can achieve through water efficiency,” said AWE president and chief executive Mary Ann Dickinson.
According to a Government Accountability Office survey of state water managers in the US published in 2013, 40 out of 50 states anticipate water shortages in coming years and many already experience periodic shortages. The AWE and PMI research will therefore provide important direction for water managers across America.
PMI chief executive and executive director Barbara C. Higgens said plumbing manufacturers are proud of the water-saving innovations they have already brought to the marketplace.
“Great water-efficiency innovations have already been made and are readily available. Now, it’s time for consumers and businesses to do their part to replace non-efficient toilets, showerheads and faucets with water-efficient ones.”
The AWE/PMI study demonstrates that current plumbing technology can make a tremendous water-saving impact, especially if toilet replacement programs can be accelerated. At the current 4% annual toilet replacement rate, the potential savings illustrated in this study will not occur for another 15 to 30 years unless replacement programs are accelerated.