President Trump Has Declared War on Toilets

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Dwight Merriam comments on President Trump's "war on toilets."

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12/16/2019 Hartford Courant digitaledition.courant.com/html5/desktop/production/default.aspxpubide1bdb9a0-d9e0-4569-842b-54331efd8091 1/3 OP-ED President Trump has declared war on toilets BY DWIGHT MERRIAM While ensuring that an adequate supply of safe clean and potable water is protected for future generations might seem to be a goal all Americans could agree on President Trump has inexplicably declared war on toilets and other low-flow bathroom fixtures designed to conserve water. Jorge Vallez 22 a plumber with Scott Plumbing carries a low-flush toilet into an apartment bathroom at the Newport North complex to replace a less-efficient toilet. SCOTT SMELTZER/Daily Pilot

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12/16/2019 Hartford Courant digitaledition.courant.com/html5/desktop/production/default.aspxpubide1bdb9a0-d9e0-4569-842b-54331efd8091 2/3 It sounds like the set-up for a joke but it is true. The president of the United States has become an enemy of the great majority of Americans who recognize that water conservation is critical to ensuring an adequate long-term supply of clean drinking water. Here is what the President had to say about low-flow toilets and other devices from a transcript provided by the White House: “We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on — you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. It’s dripping out — very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times 15 times as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So EPA is looking at that very strongly at my suggestion.” Trump’s issue with toilets dates back to the early days of his presidency. Shortly after he was elected he convened a business roundtable of chief executive officers and asked them what regulations they would like to see rolled back. After none of the CEOs brought up the issue of water efficiency standards Trump volunteered that he had an interest in the issue and said he wanted to roll back the legal standards on plumbing fixtures as he thought all the new toilets and shower heads didn’t work properly. All was quiet until a week ago when he had yet another meeting with business executives and brought up the issue again and advised that he has directed the United States Environmental Protection Agency to “review the standards” but no one knows who has been specifically tasked with that assignment. Clearly the standards are established by federal law 1992 Energy Policy Act and Trump would have to get Congress to repeal them. It seems virtually impossible that Congress would do that but a very real threat to water conservation is that Trump could eviscerate EPA’s WaterSense discretionary labeling program which has been instrumental in water conservation. According to the EPA “WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent third- party certification and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance. When you use these water-saving products in your home or business you can expect exceptional performance savings on your water bills and assurance that you are saving water for future generations.” As of the end of 2018 Watersense has helped save a cumulative 3.4 trillion gallons of water. Maintaining it and expanding on that base particularly with state level programs is essential. One saving grace is that the entire plumbing industry has completely retooled their product lines for WaterSense so no long-term impact would be deeply felt unless the WaterSense program was cancelled outright and never reinstated by a future president. Still it is critical that everyone with an interest in protecting our precious water resources makes sure that Trump knows loud and clear that there must be no rollback of regulations in this critical area.

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12/16/2019 Hartford Courant digitaledition.courant.com/html5/desktop/production/default.aspxpubide1bdb9a0-d9e0-4569-842b-54331efd8091 3/3 Six states with the help of the country’s leading water conservation advocacy organization The Alliance for Water Efficiency have adopted WaterSense standards as their own plumbing standards: California Texas Georgia Colorado New York and Nevada. Those states are safe from Trump’s meddling. Connecticut is set to join the list hopefully in the near future in connection with the Connecticut Water Plan adopted by the Connecticut General Assembly this year. Dwight Merriam is the president of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut www.riversalliance.org past president of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a practicing lawyer.

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