Drought states slow to adopt water efficiency

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Rolling Meadows, Ill., — Despite the urgent need to save water, consumers and businesses in drought-stricken states have been slow to purchase and install water-efficient toilets, showerheads and bathroom faucets, according to a study conducted by GMP Research, Inc., and commissioned by Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI).

The GMP Research/PMI study found that only 5.5 percent of California’s 33.5 million installed residential and commercial toilets are high-efficiency toilets using 1.28 gallons per flush – the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense® standard for toilets evaluated to be 20 percent more water-efficient than other plumbing products meeting federal standards. Despite the drought conditions in California, only 21.1 percent of bathroom faucets there meet the WaterSense standard of 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) and 23.9 percent of showerheads meet the WaterSense standard of 2.0 gpm. The WaterSense program was introduced in 2006 to encourage the use of water-efficient plumbing products.

The study further found that, on average, 6.7 percent of the toilets installed nationwide are WaterSense toilets, 25.4 percent of bathroom faucets are WaterSense faucets and 28.7 percent of showerheads are WaterSense showerheads. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have the highest WaterSense toilet installation rates (averaging 10.0 percent), and Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi the lowest (averaging 5.1 percent). Texas has the highest WaterSense showerhead installation rate (39.5 percent), and Arkansas the highest WaterSense bathroom faucet installation rate (35.1 percent). Connecticut has the lowest installation rates for both WaterSense bathroom faucets (12.7 percent) and WaterSense showerheads (13.6 percent).

Information on each of the 50 states can be obtained from PMI. States in the southern and mountain regions of the United States – more impacted by drought and water shortages than other parts of the nation – tend to have higher WaterSense showerhead and bathroom faucet installation rates than other states. Northern states from the Midwest to New England tend to have higher WaterSense toilet installation rates.

“With droughts beginning to affect more regions of the U.S., now is the time to create stronger rebates and incentives for consumers and businesses to purchase and install WaterSense plumbing products,” said Barbara C. Higgens, PMI CEO and executive director, noting that up to 360 million gallons of water a day can be saved through stronger adoption of WaterSense products in California alone. “WaterSense products are widely available now, and can quickly help to save water.”

PMI has been providing input to the California Energy Commission, 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 water-efficient plumbing products.

“We also are reaching out to the governors of states impacted by drought to offer our point of view and assistance,” Higgens continued. See examples of municipalities and organizations that have proactively saved water with water-efficient plumbing and PMI’s WaterSense is Common Sense fact sheet.

“The future is now – a time when steps to sustain an ever-precious resource must be taken,” Higgens stated. “As good stewards of the environment, PMI wants everyone to know that using WaterSense plumbing products is an immediate action that can be taken to save water. There have been tremendous advancements in the technology and efficacy of plumbing products. Just as you wouldn’t use a 20-year-old cell phone, it doesn’t make sense to use 20-year-old plumbing technology. Using WaterSense products is common sense. Start saving more water today.”

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