WASHINGTON — Commercial kitchens will have an opportunity to save water. The U.S. Environmental protection Agency’s WaterSense program in early February released a draft specification for commercial pre-rinse spray valves. The faucets are used to wash food residue off of plates and flatware before they are put in a dishwasher. The commercial PRSVs are defined as, “handheld devices designed and marketed for use with commercial dishwashing and ware-washing equipment and applications that spray water on dishes, flatware, and other food service items for the purpose of removing food residue before cleaning the items.”

The draft specification calls for a flow rate no higher than 1.28-GPM. The minimum spray force from the valve must not be less than 5.0 ounces. Flow rates are measured at 60-PSI.

A specification for a pre-rinse spray valve has to strike a balance between saving water and cleaning dirty plates. A PRSV should wash the food off in about 20 seconds. If it takes 40 seconds, there’s no water savings.

That spray force requirement may turn out to be an issue because T&S Brass & Bronze, one of the country’s biggest producers of PRSVs, says it might not always save water in all circumstances.

“As the leading pre-rinse spray valve manufacturer in the foodservice industry, T&S Brass has worked closely with EPA WaterSense and other interested parties over the past three years in developing these PRSV draft specifications,” said T&S Design Engineering Manager Jeff Baldwin, who is also the current president of Plumbing Manufacturers International. “While we support the agency’s efforts to help businesses conserve water and the associated energy costs, we have some concerns with the draft proposal as it currently stands. In defining a minimum force requirement that is not always applicable to every end-user application, the proposed spec could indirectly lead to higher flow rates for some applications that we believe is counterproductive to the conservation cause. As a manufacturer with a strong social conscience and a history of conservation awareness, we believe that the WaterSense PRSV performance specifications should also encompass the ultra low-flow spray valves.”

The specification does not apply to spray fittings used for pot and kettle filling, pet grooming, grocery produce and meat cleaning, or residential kitchens.

The specification has no effective date. In fact, the draft references a revised version of ASTM F2324 Standard Test Method for Pre-rinse Spray Valves, that includes the new pre-rinse spray force performance test, that is currently in the balloting process. WaterSense said it intends to reference the final standard once ASTM publishes it.