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Jim Kendzel, ASA Acting COO/VP Advocacy
|President orders toilet rule review over low-flow flushing
On Friday, December 6th the President ordered a federal review of water efficiency standards in bathroom fixtures and complained that “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once” in homes with low-flow appliances. It is not often that the President gets directly engaged in products distributed by our members, so I thought I would take this opportunity to provide some background on ASA’s position related to water efficient plumbing fixture products.
ASA’s position on water efficient plumbing fixtures is summarized as follows:
ASA has been working diligently in monitoring state and local legislative activities related to water efficiency and when appropriate, commenting on those activities based on the ASA positions noted above. We understand that in some geographical locations there is an immediate need for significant water conservation and the use of U.S. EPA WaterSense listed plumbing fixtures can help in the water conservation efforts. However, ASA has taken the position that when legislation incorporates the use of water efficient plumbing fixtures, the maximum flow rates and flush volumes are not set any lower than the limits used in the WaterSense Program.
- ASA supports the use of water efficient plumbing fixtures in markets where there is an immediate need for water conservation or driven by market demand;
- ASA supports the U.S. EPA WaterSense Program which is a voluntary product listing program for water efficient products;
- Increased focus is needed on improving the loss of water from decaying drinking water and delivery infrastructure, rather than further lowering the flow and flush volumes of water fixtures; and
- Prior to any large scale implementation of federal or state mandated water efficiency standards for plumbing fixtures, research is needed to better understand the impact of the lower flows and flush volumes on the public health and system performance.
In August of 2018, ASA was invited to attend a workshop, Measurement Science Roadmap Workshop for Water Use Efficiency and Water Quality in Premise Plumbing Systems, sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Water Research Foundation (WRF), and the Environmental Protection Agency. The results of the workshop highlight the research needed prior to any further movement toward further reducing flow rates and flush volumes:
The plumbing fixture manufacturing and distribution community has provided significant contribution to the increased efficient use of water and will continue to provide quality products available to the consumer that have been shown to comply with the US EPA WaterSense Program requirements. In fact the U.S. EPA estimates that over 3.4 trillion gallons of water has been saved since 2006. However, before we go too far down the path of a continual reduction in the amount of water flow and water flushed, we need to understand the potential impacts on public health and product performance.
- Research Area 1: Water usage patterns and end uses in commercial and residential buildings as they relate to system design and pipe sizing
- Research Area 2: Impact of piping material, design, and installation on the long-term condition of the plumbing system (potable and waste)
- Research Area 3: Impacts of water use/flow rate/water velocity/residence time on water quality, biofilm, and scale growth
ASA is reaching out to the White House and the U.S. EPA to offer our help in pursuing the President’s request for a review of federal regulations concerning water efficient plumbing fixtures. We will keep the ASA members informed as it proceeds.
- The House Judiciary Committee will hold an impeachment hearing this morning as lawmakers prepare to introduce and mark up articles against President Donald Trump as soon as this week. House lawmakers could also begin voting on spending packages ahead of this month's government funding deadline, while the Senate is set to take up more presidential nominations. (Roll Call)
- Earlier this week Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) appointed Kelly Loeffler to the Georgia Senate seat that will open after Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) retires at the end of the year. Loeffler will be the first female senator from Georgia in history (excluding Senator Rebecca Felton who was appointed to the seat for a day in 1922). In addition to being a first for Georgia, it would also be another small step toward diversifying a Congress that has a record number of women after the 2018 election results. Most of those women are Democrats, which is a cause for concern for Republicans (there are 13 Republican women in the House and 7 in the Senate) and an area of focus in the 2020 elections. So far, 163 women have already filed to run as Republicans for Congress in 2020, a record number that the GOP hopes will increase diversity in its ranks and win control of the House. Regardless of which party controls the House and Senate following the 2020 elections, expect there will be a new record of women serving in the House come January 2021. (IAPMO Washington Update)
- Rep. Duncan Hunter announced that he will resign "after the holidays" after pleading guilty to a count of misusing campaign funds for personal expenses, months after his wife reached a deal with prosecutors, admitting to a criminal charge and cooperating in their case against her husband. The California Republican had been stripped of his committee assignments and told he should no longer cast votes.
- The Senate released its 2020 legislative calendar, leaving the entire month of January empty as it faces the prospect of an impeachment trial. The Senate is set to be out of Washington, D.C., during the week of the Democratic National Convention, much of August and for the final stretch of the 2020 campaign season beginning Oct. 9.
- Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), who first came to Congress after he won a June 2010 special election to replace Republican Nathan Deal, said he will not run for re-election in 2020. Graves, who represents a district viewed as safe for Republicans, is the 17th House Republican to announce he will not seek re-election next year.
- Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), who was first elected in 2012, said he will not seek re-election next year. Washington's 10th District leans Democratic, and is expected to yield a crowded field of candidates vying to succeed him.
- Four-term Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) said he will not run for re-election next year after his Republican-leaning district was redrawn by state lawmakers into a safe Democratic district. Holding has said he would consider a run for Senate or House under a new map in 2022.
- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and House Democrats are getting close to a deal on Trump's revised North American trade agreement, recently narrowing their differences over key sticking points, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. Hurdles remain over issues such as the enforcement of labor rules, and passage of the agreement would mark a major legislative victory for the president as he faces re-election. (The Wall Street Journal)
- In a surprise move, President Donald Trump has announced immediate tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina, which he said in a tweet have been "presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies." Trump then called again on the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates so countries can "no longer take advantage of our strong dollar by further devaluing their currencies."
- Experts testified in front of the House Financial Services Committee that automation has taken thousands of routine Wall Street jobs and that it could continue to work its way to more senior positions. Democratic lawmakers on the panel questioned experts on diversity and gender bias in artificial intelligence and how to regulate data-driven financial markets. (Bloomberg)
- Mnuchin told the committee that he and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have discussed creating a digital currency and agreed there is "no need" to do so. Mnuchin's comment came after a lawmaker asked about Facebook Inc.'s planned digital currency Libra and China's plans to create its own digital token
- Total national health expenditures rose by 4.6 percent last year, reaching $3.6 trillion in 2018, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary published in Health Affairs.
- Before Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) Medicare negotiation bill comes to the House floor for a vote this week, leadership is planning to weaken a key provision added by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), according to three people familiar with the matter.
- According to three senior administration officials, the relationship between Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has deteriorated to the point that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have gotten involved.
- Lawmakers leading key congressional committees with health jurisdiction have come to a compromise on sweeping health care legislation that would end surprise billing, fund community health centers for five years and raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21, among other things. The surprise billing measure proposes including arbitration when payers and providers cannot reach consensus, and while the legislation still faces an uncertain future, its best bet is passing alongside the full funding package Congress must pass on or before Dec. 20, when the current continuing resolution expires. (The New York Times)
- EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told biofuel industry representatives that the agency intends to issue its final 2020 biofuel blending quotas by Dec. 20, according to three people familiar with the matter.
- The Environmental Protection Agency is considering issuing partial waivers from blending requirements to small refiners as a way to bridge the concerns of the ethanol and oil lobbies over the Renewable Fuel Standard, three sources said. Those sources said the agency was expected to send proposed 2020 blending quotas to the Office of Management and Budget by the end of the week. (Reuters)
- In a vote of 70-15, the Senate confirmed deputy energy secretary and former Ford Motor Co. lobbyist Dan Brouillette to the secretary post, after Rick Perry officially stepped down amid investigations into Perry's role in the Trump administration's Ukraine controversy.
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said Senate Republicans are refusing to accept stronger standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances through the Safe Drinking Water Act. PFAS provisions were stripped from the fiscal 2020 defense reauthorization measure after lawmakers could not agree over what to do, but almost 70 Democrats have indicated in a letter they will not support the bill without strong PFAS provisions. (Bloomberg Environment)
- Senator Gillibrand Announces Legislation to Stop PFAS Polluters. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, recently announced her new legislation to finally stop manufacturers and other polluters from contaminating New York waterways with toxic levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). There is no limit to how much PFAS polluters can release into the environment, putting the health and safety of communities across New York at risk. This also places the burden of costly clean-up efforts after contamination has occurred on the communities themselves, rather than on the companies responsible for the contamination. Gillibrand’s bill, the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, would help stop toxic levels of PFAS contamination from entering water sources in the first place by regulating PFAS under the Clean Water Act. Specifically, the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act would do the following: Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the sources of PFAS in waterbodies and use that information to set protective limits on the amount of PFAS chemicals that can be released. Ensure that any entity that is discharging these limited levels of PFAS receive a Clean Water Act permit before discharging these chemicals into the environment. Require the EPA to establish standards for the treatment of wastewater, which often includes PFAS chemicals,
before it is released into the environment or used for other purposes. (IAPMO Washington Update)
- The House and Senate are in session.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
- There is no new state activity to report.
President Trump said he had directed the Environmental Protection Agency to consider loosening water efficiency standards for toilets and other bathroom appliances.
"We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms," Trump said Friday.
Senators are bracing for a partisan brawl over the rules of President Trump's looming impeachment trial.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will try to negotiate a deal on ground rules, similar to the arrangement made before the 1999 trial of then-President Clinton.
Democrats on Friday warned of the "existential threat" posed by climate change, hammering President Trump's inaction on the topic while vowing to move aggressively next year on legislation designed to tackle the global issue.
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