On January 1, 2017, a new statute became law to control our water usage. It states that any single family home built before 1994, must be retrofitted, if not already, with water-conserving plumbing fixtures. The requirements for the fixtures are as follows:
- Toilets to use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush
- Showerheads to allow no more than 2.5 gallons per minute
- Interior faucets to allow no more than 2.2 gallons per minute
To be compliant you have to replace any fixture that was not manufactured to meet or exceed the above specifications. So no you can’t place bricks in the toilet reservoir, so less water is used to fill it. Manufactured is the key word. If you own an older home, you are subject to the law.
Is the water inspector going to knock on your door to check out your fixtures? Probably nothing to worry about, unless you need a building permit or are selling your house. Talk to your contractor about the building permit stuff; I will address the latter.
The two primary issues are; the seller must disclose the status of low-flow plumbing fixtures and retrofit is NOT a point-of-sale requirement. The property may sell without the retrofit. It will be interesting to see where this leads us. The contract, at the moment, does not explicitly address the fixtures, however, if you are the seller be sure to examine the top of page 3, “Government Requirements and Retrofit,” of any offers. If the “seller” boxes contain check marks, you may be on the hook to retrofit.
The seller will need to disclose on the Transfer Disclosure Statement and The Seller Property Questionnaire status of low-flow fixtures. If the answer is no, an explanation is required. If the seller is exempt in providing those two disclosures, then an Exempt Seller Disclosure form must be used where the seller will indicate the status of low-flow fixtures. Agents or brokers are not required to disclose this information. As a buyer of an older home, you will have to decide how to handle this negotiation point. Talk to your agent or broker.
One last point on the issue, this law does not supersede current local ordinance. It remains regardless of whether more onerous or less restrictive. New ordinances that promote greater water savings will also supersede the law. Less restrictive will not.
On January 1, 2019, the law will be expanded to include multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings.