I’m sure all of you have been following the plight of U.S. auto makers. Fingers can be pointed in many directions, and one of them is the fact that GM, Ford and Chrysler are caught between a rock and hard place in being under pressure to produce cars with high fuel efficiency, while car buyers until recently were more in the mood to buy SUVs and other high-profit gas guzzlers. It’s a classic arm wrestling match pitting the invisible hand of the marketplace against the heavy hand of government regulators.
Something similar is playing out in the plumbing industry with the
imperative for water conservation going against the popularity of showerheads
as big as manhole covers, or a bunch of smaller ones stacked to provide a
full-body showering experience. Then there are a lot of folks like me who can
live without these ultra-drenchers, but are apt to take longer showers when
confronted by a showerhead that does little more than spit. And no matter what
spin any marketers try to put on it, spitting is what those 2.5 gpm units feel
like. Worse, the environmental crowd would like to reduce that flow still
Our November 2008 edition included an interview
I did with EPA Administrator Dr. Stephen Johnson, who addressed last
fall’s ASA Convention in Atlanta. One of the questions I put to Dr. Johnson had
to do with this conundrum between the quest for water conservation and the
demands of the marketplace. His response was that eventually technology will
improve to the point where ultra-low-flow showerheads deliver a satisfying
I’m not so sure. It’s hard to fathom how a little bit of water to cleanse
bodily grime with the same thoroughness as a lot more water. Maybe the answer
lay in increased pressure, so that tiny jets of water do more scouring, but
there has to be a limit to how powerful a spray the engineers can muster before
the shower spray transforms from a feeling of spittle to one of needles!
Water conservation is an important quest for our industry. However,
showerheads may be one product arena where people ultimately have to choose
between conserving and cleansing.