WASHINGTON — In a stunning move on July 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment on a voice vote to the 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations Act (H.R. 4923) which would prohibit any federal spending for replacement of inefficient toilets. House Amendment #1046 was sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. The bill then passed the House and is now on its way to the U.S. Senate.

The impacts of this amendment will be far reaching. It will prevent the use of any federal funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or even the U.S. Department of Energy to finance toilet retrofit programs that save both water and energy.

Rep. Gosar said such Federal programs are a waste of money.

“With an out of control debt and no end in sight, it is beyond crazy to have the federal government continuing to subsidize unnecessary and wasteful projects,” Rep. Gosar said. “My commonsense amendment saves taxpayer money and gets the federal government out of the business of subsidizing expensive toilet exchanges that yield highly questionable returns.

“If toilet exchange programs were as efficient as the EPA and Bureau of Reclamation claim,” he continued, “then such products would save so much money and water over time that they would sell themselves in the private market and wouldn’t need taxpayer subsidies. It’s time for the federal government to stop flushing taxpayer dollars down the toilet.”

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is moving to ensure that the U.S. Senate has the information it needs to assess the value of these investments to an increasingly water short country.

AWE sent a letter to Senate leadership over the signature of AWE President and CEO Mary Ann Dickinson that explained, “This amendment would prohibit any federal funding for efficient toilet replacement programs, programs which clearly save both water and energy. In our view, passage of this amendment would hamper water efficiency program efforts needed to offset serious water shortages that are being declared in 40 out of 50 states. This amendment would further eliminate the ability of the Federal government to assist disadvantaged communities from achieving continued documented water and energy savings that have already benefitted the nation.

“The Alliance for Water Efficiency,” the letter continued, “has calculated that 18.2 trillion gallons of water have already been saved by efficient toilets installed over the past twenty years. This is equivalent to the 20-year water use of the cities of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles combined, no small amount of water. Retrofitting high volume toilets is one of the most cost effective water efficiency programs that exist, saving the consumer, the community water utility, and the nation valuable water and energy resources. To eliminate this program from funding in HR 4923 is a short-sighted act which ignores the very real water shortage issues plaguing communities across the country.”