Be sure not to do this to bypass federal law

This post started with a memory. I was thinking about a vacation trip my wife and I took this summer, and a humble motel in South Paris, Maine. I wrote about Goodwin’s Motor Inn over at Yelp, and one of the things I said was:

“The bathroom was well-cleaned. The shower head must have been installed back in the days before the government took to shoving its nose in everyone’s business, and to Pluto with water-saver fixtures, thank you… the absolutely Amazonian cascade of hot water that greeted me when I turned it on was enough to make me cheerfully forgive any other shortcomings the room might have had.”

It really was nice. And I’ve never liked water-saver shower fixtures from the time they became federally mandated; you can certainly get clean with 2.5 gallons per minute, but most of the time I just don’t feel like I’ve had that real cascade experience I grew up with in the 50’s.

I know I’m not the only one. Here’s a shot from the instruction sheet of a WaterPik shower head:

Other companies have tapped into consumer frustration with low water flow; Zoe Industries, realizing that the DOE regulations were written on a per head basis, began manufacturing some lovely multi-head devices, some with up to eight nozzles.

Unsurprisingly, the government was not happy with this arrangement, and not only did they re-write their regulations to bypass the per-head loophole, they levied fines of close to half a million dollars against Zoe for non-compliance. Even though that particular emmerdement was “settled” and Zoe only had to pay around $30,000, the company will have to stop manufacturing its multi-head fixtures at the end of 2012, and the company is fighting for its life. If you want one, you’ll have to hurry.

There’s something fundamentally annoying about government interference in private life and private business; an early cartoon dealing with income taxes still resonates today:

In the case of water, however, it’s quite plain that more is at stake than just personal convenience, because water is a global concern.

The special Water Issue is available online.

71% of earth’s surface is covered with it, yet wars are fought over access to enough. As the population of our planet continues its more than exponential growth, ensuring access to clean water for the world’s population will continue to become more difficult.

As Americans, we belong to the 8 nations that consume over 50% of the world’s fresh water resources:

That usage is not just based on personal consumption, but also on the amount of water required to produce food and other products; our hunger for beef and other meats is responsible for a large percentage of our overall use, as outlined in an article Treehugger.

In the case of water, the science is clear; we have to conserve, or we’re going to run out; living in a desert state drives that message home on a daily basis.

Coming full circle, technology is doing all it can to produce products that save more water without sacrificing performance; the EPA’s WaterSense program is just one example.

I understand the need for conservation, but dang, that shower at Goodwin’s was nice.

The Old Wolf has spoken.