Calif. Tightens Water Use For Urinals, Faucets Amid Drought

California regulators are speeding up water-efficiency standards for faucets and urinals in response to the drought.

The new standards developed by the California Energy Commission, approved Wednesday, will require the appliances to use less water when installed in homes and office buildings starting in January 2016.

The standards take effect six months ahead of schedule because of Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order last week imposing sweeping water-saving measures. The order also allows the commission to prohibit stores from selling outdated models in 2016.

The new rules mean urinals can't flush more than an eighth of a gallon, down from half a gallon. All faucets were previously allowed to pour 2.2 gallons a minute: The updated standards lower that to 1.2 for home bathrooms, 1.8 for kitchens and a half gallon for public bathrooms.

Low-flush toilets standards took effect in 2014 under legislation signed in 2007. The commission also voted to lower its toilet water standard from 1.6 gallons a flush to 1.28 gallons to match the law.

"In the face of California's current drought, we must use water as efficiently as possible and updating minimum standards for toilets, urinals and faucets is a step in that direction,'' energy commission Andrew McAllister said in a news release.

The commission says the standards will save 10 billion gallons of water in 2016, and will eventually save more than 100 billions of gallons a year as more bathrooms and kitchens are renovated and built.

The standards apply to new buildings and installations and do not require retrofitting.

At Thursday briefing on the drought in Sacramento, state officials reiterated their call for homes and businesses to slash water use as dry conditions loom with no clear end in sight.

"It's just smart to take conservation measures first and foremost,'' said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. "It's the cheapest, fastest, smartest way to extend whatever storage you have.''

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