Water & Drought

California sets low-flow standards on new shower heads

The California Energy Commission adopted new standards for shower heads Wednesday in a move that will eventually lead to the toughest rules in the nation.
The California Energy Commission adopted new standards for shower heads Wednesday in a move that will eventually lead to the toughest rules in the nation. rbyer@sacbee.com

In the state’s latest drought-conservation measure, California regulators Wednesday adopted stricter low-flow standards for showerheads in a move designed to save billions of gallons of water annually.

The new standards adopted by the California Energy Commission would slash water flows by 20 percent on showerheads manufactured after next July 1. Flows would decrease an additional 10 percent on showerheads made after July 2018.

Officials said the new standards are expected to save more than 2.4 billion gallons a year in the first year. Californians use an estimated 186 billion gallons a year showering.

The commission adopted new standards for faucets and toilets in April, shortly after Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order demanding efficiencies in water usage across the state, including lower-flow appliances and a broad 25 percent cut in urban water use.

State agencies have been scrambling to implement the executive order. For example, the California Water Commission recently ordered restrictions on lawn sizes surrounding new homes.

“Faucets and showers make up nearly 40 percent of residential indoor water use,” energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister said in a prepared statement. “We are hoping for the best, but planning for the worst in the face of the state’s historic drought. It is clear that we need to push the envelope to save water and energy while also ensuring it makes sense for consumers and the marketplace.”

The current standard in California for showerheads is 2.5 gallons per minute. That will shrink to 2 gallons effective next July, and shrink further to 1.8 gallons in July 2018. That will give California the most stringent standard in the country, according to state officials.

Also Wednesday, the commission slightly modified the standards it established in April for bathroom faucets. Under the new standards, the flow will decline by nearly one-third on faucets sold beginning next month, and by another 25 percent starting next July.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

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