Biden reverses Trump-era showerhead rule that sought to increase water flow

Shower
Taking cold showers has been linked to some health benefits.

  • The Biden administration will reverse a Trump-era rule on showerhead water flow.
  • Last December, the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era rule on the issue.
  • Since 1992, federal law has stipulated that showerheads should not put out more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
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The Biden administration is set to reverse a Trump-era rule that would have loosened restrictions on the water flow from showerheads, an issue that generated complaints from the former president during his tenure in office, according to The Associated Press.

The Energy Department is returning to the standard that was approved in 2013, noting that most showerheads already provide an ample amount of water for a thorough wash.

Most commercial showerheads are already aligned with the 2013 rule, so the policy change will have little impact among consumers.

Showerheads that could generate the additional supply of water that former President Donald Trump sought are not widely available, Energy officials said.

Since 1992, federal law has stipulated that showerheads should not put out more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.

However, as newer showerheads were introduced into the market, the administration of former President Barack Obama modified the restrictions to reflect the total amount of water that came out of any nozzles. If a showerhead had three nozzles, for example, no more than 2.5 gallons of water total could be released from all three nozzles per minute.

The Trump rule, which was instituted last December, allowed for each nozzle to release a maximum of 2.5 gallons of water per minute instead of the standard applying to the entire showerhead.

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The rule change, which would return to the Obama-era standard, is slated to published in the Federal Register next week.

The general public will then have 60 days to comment on the proposal before a final rule is devised, according to The Associated Press.

Energy officials estimated that the previous rule saved US households roughly $38 a year and believe that returning to the old standard will yield similar savings.

Kelly Speakes-Backman, the acting assistant secretary for the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, touted the move on Friday.

“As many parts of America experience historic droughts, this commonsense proposal means consumers can purchase showerheads that conserve water and save them money on their utility bills,” she said.

Trump, in pushing for the change under his administration, mentioned that his hair needed to be “perfect.”

“So showerheads – you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said last year. “So what do you do? 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.”

Conservation groups were not too keen on the 2020 rule change.

Andrew deLaski, the executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project, told The Associated Press that with four or more nozzles “you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute powering out of the showerhead, literally probably washing you out of the bathroom.”

“At a time when a good portion of the country is experiencing serious drought exacerbated by climate change, there’s no place for showerheads that use needless amounts of water,” he said.

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A hacker tried to poison the water supply in a Florida community that serves 15,000 people, officials said

water treatment plant facility
The water treatment plant pictured here is not the location of the facility mentioned in this story.

  • A Florida town of 15,000 people was the target of a cyberattack at the local water treatment plant.
  • The hacker tried to raise the amount of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, in the water by 11,000%.
  • A plant operator noticed the breach and quickly reversed it; now an investigation is underway.
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The FBI, US Secret Service, and local authorities are investigating the source of a cyberattack that targeted the water supply in a Florida town about 17 miles northwest of Tampa, the Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

The water treatment system in Oldsmar, a town of just 15,000, was remotely accessed by an unknown individual on February 5. According to Gualtieri, the hacker attempted to change the sodium hydroxide content in the system from 100 to 11,100 parts per million – a 11,000% increase.

“This is obviously a significant and potentially dangerous increase. Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is the main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners,” Gualtieri said.

Water treatment facilities use sodium hydroxide to counteract highly-acidic water levels that usually come from regions with high amounts of limestone. The chemical is safe in small, controlled amounts but can result in rashes and burns if highly concentrated amounts make contact with the skin.

Gualtieri said an operator at the Oldsmar facility recognized the security breach early in the morning when they noticed a remote user was accessing a part of the water treatment system. This was not entirely surprising as supervisors are known to troubleshoot problems from remote locations, authorities said.

But around 1:30 p.m., the operator noticed that the system was once again being accessed remotely – this time, the employee said they watched the unknown remote user open the water treatment software and increase the sodium hydroxide levels in the system.

The employee who witnessed the change immediately reverted the levels back to normal before any damage could be done.

“At no time was there a significant adverse effect on the water being treated,” Gualtieri said. “Importantly, the public was never in danger.”

Gualtieri said that if the attack had not been noticed, it would have taken 24 to 36 hours for the hacker’s changes to fully take effect, but the sheriff, mayor, and city manager each made a point to say there are protocols in place that would have prevented a catastrophe.

“Even had they not caught them, those redundancies have alarms in the systems that would have caught the change in the pH level anyway,” said Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel.

As of Monday, investigators were not yet able to identify the hacker and do not know if the attack originated in the US.

Read the original article on Business Insider