DOE withdraws interpretive showerhead rule

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy has withdrawn as unwarranted the draft interpretative rule setting out the Department's views on the definition of a "showerhead" for purposes of the water conservation standard enacted by Congress in 1992.

To provide certainty going forward, however, the Department in early March provided a brief enforcement guidance, which balances the Department's obligation to enforce the congressional standard with its determination to avoid needless economic dislocation.

The guidance, available here, explains how the Department intends to enforce the 1992 law and provides manufacturers a two-year grace period before certain enforcement action will be taken.

The department said that in reviewing complaints about showerheads that seemed to be outside the law, the Department learned that some had come to believe that a showerhead that expels water from multiple nozzles — like a trident with three nozzles or an octopus with eight — constituted not a single showerhead but rather multiple showerheads and thus could exceed the maximum permitted water use by a multiple equal to the number of nozzles on the showerhead.

“We cannot reconcile the view that a showerhead with multiple nozzles is actually multiple showerheads with EPCA’s language or intent,” DOE said in its guidance document. “Indeed, it has always been the Department’s view that when Congress used the term ‘any showerhead’ it actually meant ‘any showerhead’ — and that a showerhead with multiple nozzles constitutes a single showerhead for purposes of EPCA’s water conservation standard.”

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