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Regulatory changes are making water efficiency a major focus.Environmental consciousness isn’t a fad, or even an option anymore; it’s something that’s becoming legally required in the form of property plumbing regulations at both the state and national level. 

In California, property owners will soon have to adhere to water-conservative regulations as they are gradually introduced from today until 2019

Water conservation efforts have reached the main stage in environmental policy changes. For property owners, this has resulted in new regulations and legal requirements concerning what is “standard” for property plumbing.

When selling, trading or leasing properties, property owners  must anticipate these new plumbing regulations as they are enacted in future legislation; this applies to single family, multifamily and commercial properties alike.

Growing Conservation: Non-Compliant Plumbing Fixtures

For legal purposes, the State of California considers all of the following to be noncompliant plumbing fixtures (fixtures facing mandatory replacement or removal in upcoming regulatory changes):

  • Any property faucet using more that 2.2 gallons of water per minute
  • Any shower heads with a flow capacity exceeding 2.5 gallons per minute 
  • Any toilet that consumes over 1.6 gallons of water per each flush
  • Any urinal consuming more than one gallon per flush

As per California’s Senate Bill No. 407, approved and filed in October 11, 2009 and effective January 2014, any single-family property alterations must include replacement of noncompliant plumbing fixtures to receive permit approval.

Beginning January 1, 2017, any noncompliant plumbing fixtures in single-family properties must be replaced by the property owner with a water-conservative alternative. On January 1, 2019, this requirement broadly extends to include multifamily and commercial residential properties. 

In certain circumstances, however, such replacements to multifamily and commercial properties are already required (as per the January 2014 enactment). This includes:

  • If planned building alterations/improvements are estimated to cost over $150,000.
  • If building additions with concurrent permits are estimated to increase floor space by 10%.
  • If any alterations or improvements, which require a building permit, are made to a room in a given building. 

What all of this means is, generally, if your commercial residential or multifamily renovations exceed a certain budget or space, or require a permit, you’ll also be required to update noncompliant plumbing fixtures… which will become mandatory anyways in 2019.

Exemptions to Californian Conservative Regulation

The compliance regulations listed in the above segments do not apply to the following properties or types of property, as listed in Senate Bill No. 407:

  • Historical sites registered with the State of California.
  • Property for which a licensed plumber has certified that replacing noncompliant plumbing fixtures with water-conservative models is not technically feasible.
  • Buildings with permanently disconnected water services.
Bills like these have become the norm across the United States, as state governments have acknowledged the great environmental benefits possible through mandated conservative plumbing fixtures. 

High-efficiency plumbing fixtures are becoming standard for good reason. They’re innovative technologies that home and commercial property owners should install in their buildings not just because it’s becoming legally-required to do so, but because it can help reduce environmental footprints and save millions upon millions of dollars nationwide.

What You Can Do

Water-conservative plumbing solutions are going to become a legal requirement for all Californian residential properties by 2019. While you can sit back and wait until then to update your noncompliant plumbing fixtures (or even sooner, if you’re a single-family homeowner), we recommend being proactive in the face of these regulations and replacing your outdated fixtures today. 

Inefficient plumbing fixtures, from running toilets to outdated faucets, can consume as much as 30% more water than high-efficiency models - this has implications not just on the environment, but also on your wallet. 

Replacing noncompliant fixtures is going to happen one of two ways: either by legal requirement or by choice until it is required to do so. Due to the great savings that come with these solutions, why wait?

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