When Donald Trump claimed in December that due to supposedly excessive government regulations, toilets now required 10 or even 15 flushings per use just to clear the toilet bowl, officials inside the Environmental Protection Agency in charge of water conservation programs reacted with disbelief and ridicule, according to a set of internal emails released on Thursday.
Speaking to the press in December, Trump said that he was “looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms,” and that “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once.” He claimed that conservation regulations cause Americans to use more water to flush instead of less, according to an NBC News report.
The president has continued to make claims about water-efficient toilets at campaign events, stating at a rally in Milwaukee last month that “you do not get any water” from toilets and showers, as quoted in the NBC News report.
“I have this beautiful head of hair. I need a lot of water,” Trump told the rallygoers. “You go into the shower and… drip. Drip.”
But according to NBC News, when Veronica Blette, head of the WaterSense program inside the EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management, saw the president’s comments, she emailed a video of his remarks to several colleagues, remarking “I can’t even.”
TRUMP: “We're looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms … People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water." pic.twitter.com/hFJtQMdGLb— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) December 6, 2019
Beth Livingston, a WaterSense brand executive, ridiculed Trump’s claims in an email to a representative of a faucet manufacturer.
“LOL — the only ones I think of that might actually just drip are for Barbie doll play houses!” she wrote, as quoted in a Business Insider report on the emails.
The correspondence was only released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by NBC News.
Under the Energy Policy Act signed into law in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush, toilets, showerheads, and faucets must adhere to limits on water flow. The regulations took effect two years later, as the federal government has overseen limits on those bathroom fixtures since 1994. But conservatives have long objected to what they say are excessive regulations on water consumption.
Those conservatives have been heartened by Trump’s remarks, such as at one Michigan rally last year, in which the president claimed that toilets must now be flushed “10 times, right, 10 times,” according to quotes published by The Daily Beast.
Trump then pointed to an audience member and told him, “Not me. But you.”
In another email to colleagues, Blette simply wrote “sigh” as she commented on the aforementioned claim from Trump.