Consumer Choice and Water Efficiency

Approved March 2009, Revised November 2011, Reaffirmed August 2017

Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) has long advocated the efficient use of water and maximizing consumer choice as reflected in PMI’s mission statement. We believe that these two objectives are not mutually exclusive and can be achieved simultaneously.

Consumer choice in the context of responsible water use begins with awareness and education and the ability to make personal decisions and trade-offs. Water efficiency measures must seek to encourage lower water use, and avoid restricting the design and operation of plumbing products. In essence, water efficiency should only determine how much water is used, and not how the savings are to be achieved. This will ensure that manufacturers and designers are afforded the opportunity to innovate in both form and function.

Freedom of design produces a range of products for different price points, aesthetics, applications, and user needs. It also produces innovations that can improve the quality of life and permit even lower water consumption. Consumer choice in the context of responsible water use also includes flexibility in the range and features of products used within an appropriate water budget.

Choice must also extend to the mix of products to be used in a given application.

Users should be given a total water consumption goal in keeping with local supply limitations and infrastructure limitations. They should then be permitted to choose, ala carte, the combination of products that best fits their needs, values, and wishes. This includes scenarios where the user selects devices in one part of a structure that consume extremely low quantities of water (or none at all), to permit alternative choices elsewhere in the structure. Doing so will encourage the combination of products chosen to meet the unique needs of a diverse population over a diverse geography.

Providing appropriate consumer choice will produce far greater acceptance of water efficiency efforts and ultimately maximize water savings. The effectiveness of stringent, design-restrictive water conservation programs will be blunted if consumers refuse to retain products they will not accept. Affording consumer’s choice has been shown to improve the acceptance of responsible water efficiency programs.

When pursued simultaneously and thoughtfully, water efficiency efforts and consumer choice produce both the long-term savings needed with a satisfied and engaged public.