PMI urges immediate use of EPA WaterSense products in California

Rolling Meadows, Ill. – Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI)  appreciates and applauds Governor Jerry Brown’s April 1 executive order, as the need for water savings in California has never been greater. PMI, however, is concerned that the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) emergency regulations call for products with maximum flow rates far below approved WaterSense levels and, in the case of 1.2 gallons per minute (gpm) residential lavatory faucets, products that do not widely exist. The compliance deadline of January 2016 is unrealistic in view of the time required for product development, testing and certification, and meeting the deadline will be difficult, if not impossible.

In addition, consistent with the analysis submitted by acknowledged scientists, PMI has expressed concerns that the 1.2 maximum gpm flow rate for residential lavatory faucets may introduce the risk of waterborne pathogens growing in plumbing systems. Distribution challenges must also be considered.

In working with the CEC on this issue for some time, PMI advocates the use of current WaterSense-labeled, water-efficient plumbing products meeting Environmental Protection Agency criteria. Using these products can save up to 360 million gallons of water per day in California, according to a PMI estimate.

PMI has therefore recommended a 1.5 maximum gpm flow rate for residential lavatory faucets. PMI advocates for flow rates to be established with an eye toward health, safety and product performance. Replacing, or retrofitting, old plumbing fixtures with WaterSense products will deliver immediate savings now. As noted, the executive order sets flow rate levels to be effective in the future, delaying the impact of water savings.

“The future is now,” said Barbara C. Higgens, CEO and executive director of PMI. “There is no need to postpone savings. Retrofit to WaterSense today.” Higgens was a part of a panel presentation on “The Future of Water” at an April 13 Water Week event in Washington, D.C.

In anticipation of the need for better water efficiency, PMI has been engaged with the CEC during the two-year regulatory process preceding the governor’s order. As a result, PMI is very familiar with the emergency regulations and supports the ones addressing toilets, kitchen faucets and public lavatory faucets.

PMI will continue to work with and provide input to the CEC, the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board as they work to fulfill Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order to develop a statewide rebate program providing monetary incentives for the purchase of these products, which include toilets, faucets and showerheads bearing the WaterSense label of endorsement.

In California, the future is now

In an April 7 news announcement, Higgens stated: “In California, the future is now – a time when steps to sustain an ever-precious resource must be taken. As good stewards of the environment, PMI wants the public to know that using water-efficient plumbing products is an immediate action that can be taken to save water. Flow rates must be set carefully within health and safety parameters to avoid unintended consequences. PMI advocates levels specified by the EPA WaterSense program, which takes performance criteria into account in addition to promoting the efficient use of water. There have been tremendous advancements in the technology and efficacy of plumbing products. Just as you wouldn’t use a 25-year-old cell phone, it doesn’t make sense to use 25-year-old plumbing technology.”

PMI has long encouraged the replacement of older fixtures with WaterSense toilets, showerheads and faucets, which are widely available in stores throughout California and the nation. PMI and its member companies – which produce most of the plumbing products in the United States – participate as partners in the WaterSense program. “Using WaterSense products is common sense,” Higgens said.

WaterSense products use 20 percent less water than federal requirements

To earn the WaterSense label, plumbing products are independently tested and certified as using at least 20 percent less water than federal requirements while meeting performance standards. Available at a wide variety of price points and in a broad range of styles, these water-efficient products are now required by the California Building Code in new construction and renovations.

“A statewide rebate program will further water savings by encouraging comprehensive and timely retrofitting of older products in existing buildings,” Higgens said.

PMI has a history of active engagement and support for California legislative and regulatory efforts to accomplish increased water efficiencies.

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