This paper discusses the potential merits and opportunities of introducing national minimum performance standards (MPS) for water efficient appliances, in particular showerheads. At a national level the introduction of MPS for showerheads by 2005 is expected to result in a reduction in the demand for water by over 79 GL/annum by 2015. The reduction in energy consumption associated with reduced water heating needs by water efficient showerheads is 7.7 million GJ/annum, while greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 1.3 million tonnes CO2/annum, by 2015.

This initiative will generate benefits to an array of stakeholders. These benefits include: increased allocation of water for environmental flows, reduced demand on groundwater sources, reduced wastewater flows and associated pollution, and financial benefits to water utilities, particularly if the utility is experiencing water supply or wastewater treatment constraints. Regulation will also protect the investment (estimated to be of the order of $16 million) that a number of water utilities are making in incentive and retrofit programs.

The most effective form of regulation to achieve the greatest outcomes in terms of reducing water and energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is a regulation that controls the supply of showerheads on the basis of flow rate. The MPS being proposed is 9 L/minute, and regulation would involve mandatory labelling of showerheads and compliance with the AAA-rating. The legislative options and challenge of introducing such a requirement within the current regulatory environment are discussed.

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