In the 1990s, it was made federal law in the United States that no toilet may use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. At first, low flush toilets were viewed warily, as they did not do their job well on the first flush, and often clogged. Many felt the toilets were worse than previous, higher flush, toilets. Three low flow toilet flushes were equal to 4.8 gallons of water used, greater than what an older toilet would use.
- In 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act, making 1.6 gallons the maximum water per flush.
- The Act was put into effect on January 1, 1994 for residential buildings and on January 1, 1997 for commercial buildings.
- The low flush toilets were first used in 1988, in Massachusetts, where they were mandated for construction and remodeling.
- This kind of toilet was new for the United States because previous to the Act being passed, there had been no limits placed on the size of toilet flushes.
- The Energy Policy Act was written because of environmental concerns about using too much water in the US.
- In early rebellion to the seemingly flawed design of the mid '90s low flush toilet, many Americans crossed the Canadian border to buy 3.5 gallon flush toilets.
- Also, Congressman Joe Knollenberg from Michigan tried to repeal the Act, but was unsuccessful.
- A low flush toilet would typically come in one of two types: single- or dual-flush. A single flush toilet would have only one flush setting, while the dual flush version has two settings. The first setting uses all water available, while the second uses a reduced flush, usually of about 1.1 gallons.
- This type of toilet expresses the environmental concerns that were quickly becoming a large issue in the late 20th century.
- Compared to trends or other environmental laws going on at the time, the Energy Policy Act was the most important because it brought environmental enforcement to the homes of Americans, in a way they couldn't miss.
- The low flush toilet can tell us much about how American lawmakers were concerned about the United States using too much water for waste management.
- However, the low flush toilet and the arguments for and against it cannot tell us about the way the Energy Policy Act was realistically enforced in American homes, or the extent of Canadian involvement in old-fashioned toilet sales to Americans.
- This toilet was definitely very counter to what Americans had seen before, but quickly grew to become mainstream.