Without advance notice to stakeholders, the U.S. Department of Energy has proposed to re-define showerheads as shower valves, which would allow only a single showerhead using no more than 2.5 gallons per minute of water per showering compartment. The new definition would effectively ban multiple outlet shower systems (hand showers, body sprays, gang showers and more) that have proven popular with segments of the market.
Unless challenged, the new definition would take place by
June 18. The Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (PMI) has issued an action alert
to members advising them to contact DOE and speak out against the
According to PMI Executive DirectorBarbara Higgens,
neither PMI nor affected manufacturers were informed of the action and
“stumbled across” the news when it appeared as Docket No. EERE-2010-BT-NOA-0016
in the Federal Register, buried amid numerous other directives. When we spoke
on May 26, Higgens was hurrying to try to assemble a coalition of other
organizations that would be impacted by the new showerhead regulations. These
include not only plumbing and construction trade associations, but also groups
such as AARP and organizations representing disabled people, for whom multiple showerhead
systems are more of a functional necessity rather than luxury convenience.
Showerheads fall under DOE jurisdiction to enact water
conservation standards, and all manufacturers are resigned to producing units
that use no more than 2.5 gpm. Multiple shower systems have presented a
difficult challenge from a water conservation standpoint, with various
solutions debated and proposed over a period of years.