The Biden administration has reinstated water efficiency caps on shower heads, completing a rollback of a last-minute Trump administration rule that baffled consumer groups.
The Energy Department finalized a rule requiring a 2.5 gallon-per-minute maximum flow rate from shower heads, which was set by Congress in 1992, the agency announced late Tuesday in a pre-publication notice in the Federal Register.
The DOE, under former President Donald Trump, had finalized in December 2020 allowing manufacturers to bypass those standards by limiting that flow rate to individual shower heads.
Showers with two or three nozzles could double or triple the total flow rate of showers.
The rule came after Trump complained about water pressure in showers, as well as low-flow toilets and dishwashers that he believed took too long to run a cycle.
“You turn on the shower—if you’re like me, you can’t wash your beautiful hair properly,” Trump said the following month during a visit to a Whirlpool Corp. manufacturing plant in Ohio. “You waste 20 minutes longer. Please come out. The water—it drips, right?”
In July, the Biden administration said it intended to reinstate the 1992 standard by returning to the previous definition of “shower head.”
The final action will “provide consumers the benefits derived from water savings that will accrue over time with this return to the definition of ‘showerhead’ that existed prior to the December 2020 Final Rule,” the department wrote in Tuesday’s notice.
Consumer groups praised the Biden administration’s action.
“This was a silly loophole from the beginning and the department was right to fix it,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “The good news is there was no clamoring for products that took advantage of this, and we can put this whole episode in the past.”
The Biden administration is still in the process of finalizing a rollback of the Trump administration’s dishwasher rule, which created a new class of dishwashers that wash and dry in an hour. Environmental groups complained that the new dishwasher class failed to establish limits on energy and water consumption.