Environmental Policy

Brief # 106

Fixation on Fixtures; The Showerhead Rollbacks

Shannon Q Elliott

January 18, 2021

President Trump has rolled back the Department of Energy’s (DOE) standards for consumer appliances. It was concluded that the performance exhibited by showerheads, washers, and dryers is a burden on the American consumer. In December, our sitting president told the press; “People are flushing toilets 10-15 times, water is dripping out of faucets, and water is plentiful in the United States.” As a result of this statement, the administration aggressively pursued the current rule and revised it without conclusive evidence that the rule needed to be amended.

The initial rule set by Congress in the 1990s allowed showerheads a flow rate of 2.5 gallons of water per minute. It was determined that the definition of the term showerhead was to be interpreted as “the part of the shower that water flows out of”. As newer showerhead models entered the market with multiple nozzles, the Obama administration narrowed the definition.  If four nozzles were now part of a showerhead design, 2.5 gallons per minute is what the four nozzles were able to collectively dispense. The quick math will show that under Obama’s redefinition, .62 gallons of water could be dispensed per nozzle on the showerhead, per minute.

When the term showerhead was reworked in December of 2020 to appease Trump, multiple jets, and various models of showerhead systems will now be counted individually. The four nozzles mentioned above are able to spit out 2.5 gallons per minute each, collectively using 10 gallons of water per minute.


Contrary to Trump’s belief that “water is plentiful” in the United States, The Waterproject.org reports that water scarcity is an emerging reality. Southwestern states are unable to replenish their water supply, and the shortage will soon affect other regions. Macroeconomics tells us that a larger population equates to more demand. If the water supply continues to dwindle, because the government fails to regulate usage responsibly, the United States may find itself among the countries that ration water.

Other countries struggle to find clean water sources for survival. Trump is dissecting legislation that shows no indication or need for revision. According to David Friedman, Assistant Secretary; DOE under Obama, there was no justification to revise the current rule. This is just another presidential vexation to an Obama era rule, being dissected. As a result, the new administration will have to revisit it, using their time, and taxpayer dollars to protect the water supply, and piece back together legislation that served the country until the last hours of Trump’s presidency.

Learn More:

Leblanc, P. (2020, December 15). Trump administration finalizes rollback of showerhead standards. https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/15/politics/showerhead-standards-trump/index.html

Sprunt, B. (2020, December 17). Trump Bemoaned Water Pressure. Now His Administration Has Eased Standards.: https://www.npr.org/2020/12/17/947251937/trump-bemoaned-water-pressure-now-his-administration-has-eased-standards

Resistance Resources:

Appliance Standards Awareness Project . (2020). https://appliance-standards.org/

Natural Resources Defense Counsel . (2020). https://www.nrdc.org/.

The Water Project . (2020). https://thewaterproject.org/.

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