Legislative activity affecting plumbing manufacturers continues to heat up across the country – particularly on appliance efficiency, consumer data protection, greywater use, and PFAS. Plumbing Manufacturers International Technical Director Kyle Thompson currently keeps a careful eye on 110 state bills that could impact PMI members.
New appliance efficiency bills in Colorado and Hawaii
Several states are addressing appliance efficiency standards, with some proposing flow rates that would go below WaterSense levels. PMI has been successful in persuading Colorado and Hawaii to adopt some of the association’s recommendations on flow rates, fixture definitions, and manufacturer deadlines.
Colorado HB 1161 would expand the appliances and fixtures subject to current water- and energy-efficiency standards to include certain faucets and urinals, spray sprinkler bodies, and tub spout diverters, Thompson reported.
The proposed bill would have required both WaterSense listing certification and Title 20 compliance for public lavatory faucets, which isn’t possible, he explained. The flow rate for Title 20 compliance is 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm) while WaterSense has a minimum flow rate of 0.8 gpm. “The flow rates of either one are fine, but you can’t certify a public lavatory faucet to both,” he said.
The latest draft of the bill, amended on April 14, no longer includes the Title 20 flow rate requirement for public lavatory faucets. In addition, Colorado committee members extended the deadline allowing plumbing manufacturers to sell their current inventory of plumbing fixtures not meeting the new standards from Jan. 1, 2024, to Jan. 1, 2025. An amended draft of the bill passed the House and was introduced in the Senate on April 15.
In Hawaii, HB 194/SB 691 proposes to set flow rates for water closets and urinals to California’s standards. PMI, along with the Hawaiian Plumbers Union, successfully advocated for an amendment to increase the flush rate for wall-hung urinals from 0.125 gallons per flush (gpf) to 0.5 gpf – to match the WaterSense flush rate for urinals.
Iowa becomes sixth state to pass consumer data protection law
In March, Iowa became the sixth state to pass a consumer data protection law – joining California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah and Virginia. With no comprehensive federal data privacy legislation in place, affected plumbing manufacturers must follow the various state laws.
“Plumbing manufacturers doing business in multiple states need to be aware of any irregularities in these laws, so they can adapt their data protection policies accordingly,” Thompson said.
He noted that Iowa’s bill, SF 262, essentially follows the bill model set up by Virginia. To fully protect their businesses, PMI members will likely follow the more stringent requirements of the California Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2023, Thompson added. For example, both the Virginia and Iowa laws do not allow private citizens to sue a business for data breaches, while California’s more stringent law allows citizen lawsuits.
Greywater challenges in Massachusetts
PMI has expressed concerns about Massachusetts HB 280, a bill that would establish plumbing code regulations for reusing greywater for toilet flushing and would mandate greywater recycling in new multifamily construction projects in the state.
On Feb. 16, the bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. PMI plans to submit comments to the joint committee once a hearing is scheduled.
PMI supports the use of greywater in toilet flushing when specific water quality parameters are met, Thompson said. In its next letter to the committee, PMI plans to explain that HB 280 does not specify a minimum or maximum requirement for residual chlorine, Thompson said. PMI also remains concerned about the potential negative impact that non‐potable water may have on plumbing product performance, customer expectations, and public health and safety.
To protect people who are immunocompromised or have wounds, PMI recommends the bill require a separate potable water supply line be installed for bidets or similar personal hygiene devices that spray water directly on an individual, Thompson said.
EPA proposes new rule for PFAS and drinking water standards
On March 14, the Environmental Protection Agency released the proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for PFOA and PFOS – with four additional PFAS to be reviewed for potential regulation.
Some refrigerants contain PFAS, so the regulation would impact PMI members that use those refrigerants to manufacture water coolers and water stations.
The EPA published the four additional PFAS, including PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and HFPO-DA (GenX), in its Final Fifth Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List, Thompson said. The EPA proposes a regulation to limit any mixture containing one or more of those four PFAS. Water systems would use a hazard index calculation – an established approach defined in the proposed rule – to determine if the combined levels of these PFAS pose a potential risk, according to a March EPA news release.
Currently, several state standards and guidelines have been established for multiple PFAS compounds at varying levels. The EPA’s proposed standards would be stricter than any of those state regulations, Thompson said.
PMI seeks task force members to draft water-efficiency policy brief
PMI is seeking members for a new task force to draft a policy brief to the PMI Board of Directors on how to address state water-efficiency bills going forward. If you’re interested in joining the task force, contact Thompson at email@example.com.