Trump talks about American toilet troubles, calls for review of water efficiency standards

Trump called for a review of water efficiency standards, citing issues with America's toilets and bathroom fixtures

By Matthew Rozsa
December 8, 2019 3:00PM (UTC)
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US President Donald Trump walks from the Residence to the West Wing of the White House (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

In comments that discussed toilet usage, President Donald Trump called for a reevaluation of American water efficiency standards after complaining on Friday during a White House meeting about small businesses and reducing red tape that "people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once."

"We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on — and areas where there's tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it, and you don't get any water," Trump said on Friday.

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He added, "You turn on the faucet and you don't get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. Just dripping out, very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So the EPA is looking at that very strongly at my suggestion."

Speaking to USA Today on Friday, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency said that "the EPA is working with all federal partners including Department of Energy to review the implementation of the Federal Energy Management Plan and how its relevant programs interact with it to ensure American consumers have more choice when purchasing water products." The president did not mention that, because of a 2018 law, Congress is already required to reevaluate any water regulations passed before 2012, according to The Washington Post. These include "specifications for tank-type toilets, lavatory faucets and faucet accessories, showerheads, flushing urinals, and weather-based irrigation controllers."

During his comments Trump talked about Americans who "go into a new building or a new house or a new home and they have standards only you don't get water. You can't wash your hands practically, there's so little water comes out of the faucet. And the end result is you leave the faucet on and it takes you much longer to wash your hands. " Because he argued Americans wind up using "the same amount of water," Trump concluded that the government needed to evaluate "opening up the standard."

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After acknowledging that there may be some Americans who need to "go the other route" if they live in "desert areas," he said that there is "so much water" in other states because of "rain," prompting laughter from the audience at the White House.

"They don't know what to do with it, so we're going to be looking at opening up that I believe. And we're looking at changing the standards very soon," Trump concluded.

While it is unclear if Trump was directly inspired by libertarian opposition to water regulations, the president's remarks are consistent with a longer history from the right of opposing toilet water pressure regulations as an overreach in state power, according to Mother Jones.

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Trump did not limit his complaints to bathroom fixtures. He also discussed his opposition to how environmental regulators "got rid of the light bulb that people got used to. The new bulb is many times more expensive. And I hate to say it, it doesn't make you look as good. Of course, being a vain person, that's very important to me."

He added, "It gives you an orange look. I don't want an orange look."


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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