ROLLING MEADOWS, ILL.—A coalition led by the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute recently helped Texas join California as the second state nationwide to require high-efficiency toilets (HETs) in all new residential and commercial construction. An HET is defined as a water closet that uses no more than 1.28 gallons of water per flush (GPF), or 20 percent less than the 1.6-GPF models mandated by the National Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct).
Texas House Bill 2667, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on June 19, also sets maximum showerhead flow rates at 2.5 gallons per minute and urinal flush volumes at 0.5 GPF. Effective September 1 of this year, the legislation mandates that toilet and urinal manufacturers phase in HETs over the next four years, starting with 50 percent of in-state sales by January 1, 2010, and culminating with 100 percent by January 1, 2014. In addition, HB 2667 contains two other key provisions:
Any plumbing product certified by the federal WaterSense Program is exempt from the new Texas efficiency standards. This marks the first time that WaterSense, which was unveiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2006, has been specifically referenced in a state law.
HB 2667 repeals all manufacturer product filing fees and testing requirements, formerly required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state testing and certification agency.
Strong Coalition of Supporters
Testifying on behalf of the legislation, which was filed on March 6 by Rep. Alan Ritter (D-Nederland), were Carole Baker of the Alliance for Water Efficiency and Karen Guz of the San Antonio Water System, in addition to PMI technical director Shawn Martin. Environmental groups, such as the National Wildlife Federation and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, also registered their support for HB 2667, helping to speed its passage through both houses of the Texas Legislature this past April and May.
That relatively smooth progress through the legislature reflects the strength of the coalition that PMI helped build over the previous 12 months. Working closely with state environmentalists and water conservation organizations, the association also maintained close communications with Rep. Ritter, who is the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, and the offices of Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D-Mission) and Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio).
“This is a major victory and an important milestone for PMI members and the plumbing industry in our efforts to promote the efficient use of water,” says PMI executive director Barbara C. Higgens. “Our work in Texas is part of PMI’s overall strategy to harmonize water efficiency standards across the United States to make saving water an effective, practical reality for all property owners and businesses.
“PMI members have successfully developed the various plumbing technologies that meet the demanding criteria of the national WaterSense program, helping Americans to save water without sacrificing comfort or convenience,” Higgens added. “We actively support current legislative efforts—both federal and state—that seek to write these technological achievements into law in a consistent way from state to state, while also creating effective economic incentives for the installation of these products.”
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