Toward the end of his otherwise tumultuous term, former President Donald Trump leaned into his role as Whiner In Chief to do something nice for all of us. Something minor and, in a sane world, completely non-controversial, but nice nonetheless.
“Showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” he complained. “You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect.”
The reason: US Department of Energy “conservation rules” that limit how much water (2.5 gallons per minute) a shower head is allowed to pour over you.
And by golly, he did something about it (the water flow, not his hair):
He directed the US Department of Energy to roll back its restrictions to the glory days of 1992, when showers could still rain down cleanliness on you such that it was possible to get wet, washed, dry, and dressed during the last segment of “Unsolved Mysteries” and not miss the opening scene of “Seinfeld.” Or, unfortunately, the entirety of “Charles and Diana: Unhappily Ever After.”
It was a minor change, however lovely, and not yet implemented by shower head manufacturers when the Biden Administration nixed it on July 16.
The excuse is “water conservation.” The real reason, one has to assume, is “because it was a Trump thing, and all Trump things must be undone.” The rule reversion probably won’t save an ounce of water.
For one thing, if you have to spend twice as long in the shower to get clean, using half as much water per minute doesn’t save any. It just wastes your time.
For another, weak showers drive many people back to an old-fashioned and much more water-wasteful alternative, the bath.
And, finally, a little secret: Anyone with a pair of needle-nose pliers and access to YouTube can quickly and easily build a time machine that re-locates your shower to the pre-1992 era!
Millions of Americans have pulled the “flow restrictors” out of their shower heads, hopefully wagging their middle fingers in the direction of Washington, DC as they did so. Manufacturers are required to put those flow restrictors in the shower heads they sell, but you’re not required to leave them there. Yet.
If the Biden administration is serious about water conversation, it should look into options like reducing water-wasteful methanol subsidies instead of dirty tricks like mandating inferior shower experiences.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.