In 2017, California passed a new state law that requires all commercial plumbing fixtures to meet the most stringent water-saving standards. With this legislation in place, many people are wondering if their current bathroom and kitchen faucets and toilets will be compliant.
When Were The Plumbing Fixtures First Installed?
Whether plumbing fixtures comply with current water conservation standards depends mostly on when they were installed.
Water plumbing fixtures installed before the early 1990s are likely to be water wasters. Water plumbing fixtures installed since the mid-1990s, however, have been designed to meet more efficient water use requirements. Even so, these fixtures may still not be compliant with the new water savings standards.
So, with regards to California’s 2017 water rules, the answer is yes, as long as they were installed after January 2016. If you have an older fixture then it will need to comply with the old standard of 1 TPH/Ml or 0.1 GPM/M2—the first number represents gallons per minute while the second one refers to cubic feet per minute (equivalent).
2017 California Water Savings Rules
The new conservation rules for single-family houses went into effect in 2017 based on regulations laid down in state law in 2009. However, from January 1, 2019, the regulation will apply to commercial and multifamily structures. Unlike prior laws, which only applied to new construction and restoration, these restrictions apply to any existing plumbing equipment in buildings constructed before 1994.
With the new requirements set to take effect shortly, many landlords are worried whether inspectors would show up at their doors demanding significant modifications to their current homes. Fortunately, the adjustments aren’t as drastic or disruptive as they may first seem.
Why California Has Water Savings Standards
There are reasons why California is the nation’s leader in water conservation standards.
California has been in the grip of a terrible drought for the majority of the twenty-first century, which is believed to have cost about $3 billion in agricultural losses alone. As a result of the problem, the state has slowly imposed stronger water conservation measures, frequently creating precedents that other states, such as Texas and Georgia, are now following.
From the mid-1990s, water-saving initiatives centered on fixture makers, who were required to fulfill more severe efficiency criteria. The attention turned to both residential and commercial property owners in 2009. The requirements were phased in over many years, with all remodeled residences being required to install compliance fixtures in 2014 and all non-compliant fixtures being replaced in 2017. In 2015, water conservation regulations were strengthened once again, and beginning in 2019, all commercial and multifamily property owners would be compelled to replace non-compliant fixtures in buildings built before 1994.
New California Water Fixture Compliance Requirements
So, what are the current standards on water efficiency? In 2015, the California Energy Commission enacted the following regulations:
- 1.2 GPM lavatory faucets (Gallons Per Minute)
- Kitchen faucets: 1.8 GPM with the possibility to raise to 2.2 GPM on a “momentary” basis.
- 2.0 GPM showerheads (dropping to 1.8 GPM on July 1, 2018)
- Toilets: 1.28 GPF (Gallons Per Flush)
- 0.125 GPF urinals
The new measures are projected to save up to 105 billion gallons of water per year if completely enforced. That’s a significant saving for a state that utilizes roughly 440 billion gallons of water each year!
Commercial property owners in California will welcome 2019 with more than fireworks: new water-saving fixture rules. This process is ongoing as drought conditions expand or wane in the coming years. So, it is important to keep up to date with what water rules California provides for home and commercial buildings.
What Impact Will the New Standards Have on You?
While there are no fines or penalties for non-compliance, property owners are legally obligated to inform potential purchasers if a building’s fittings are not up to code. Noncompliance, on the other hand, might drastically restrict a property’s prospective worth if no buyer is prepared to cover the remodeling expenditures.
So, how can you tell whether your fixtures meet California’s requirements? The good news is that unless you’re having renovations done, the law doesn’t require them to be changed if the home was constructed after 1994. Even if your building was built before 1994, new fixtures were most probably installed if you had any renovations done during the previous 10 years. Since 2014, any non-compliant fixtures in commercial or multifamily buildings that increased floor space by 10% or cost more than $150,000 have had to be replaced in order to get a final occupancy permit.
Furthermore, most fixtures made after the mid-1990s meet the most stringent water-saving standards (with California leading the way). The EPA’s WaterSense program has been labeling items that satisfy national water conservation criteria since 2006 to assist customers to comply with local regulations. If you’re unsure about the performance of your fixture, seek the WaterSense label or look up the model number online.
If you are having trouble with your plumbing fixtures, knowing how to turn off your water is crucial to repairing them. To learn more, see Emergency Tip: How to Turn Your Water Off in 4 Easy Steps.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are water-saving plumbing fixtures?
A: Generally, these are fixtures that use less water when they are in operation. There is usually a decrease of 1-2 liters per hour with the installation of such fixtures.
What are new plumbing fixtures?
A: There are three main types of new plumbing fixtures. They are low-flow toilets, showerheads with a diverter valve on the spout, and instant hot water heaters that use an electric thermostat to control the temperature instead of gas or oil burners.
What GPM is allowed in California?
A: The state of California has a maximum GPM limit of 60.