The California state legislature has passed two bills of great importance to our industry. At press time, both were awaiting action by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - signature or veto. The deadline for action was Sept. 30.

  • California Assembly Bill 1953.
    The Plumbing Manufacturers Institute, along with other trade associations and manufacturers, urged Gov. Schwarzenegger to veto California Assembly Bill 1953, which calls for the reduction of lead content in plumbing pipe, fittings and fixtures to no more than 0.25% and would take effect in 2010. The current law allows up to 8% lead for pipe and fittings and 4% for plumbing fittings and fixtures.

    “Our position is that the only way to ensure safe drinking water is not by dictating materials or manufacturing methods, but rather by using a performance-based standard to analyze what is going into the glass,” according to Barbara C. Higgens, executive director of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute.

    The California Senate passed the legislation, known as AB 1953, in August by a vote of 21 to 17, with two abstentions. The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 41 to 35, with three abstentions.

    Commenting on the likelihood of a veto, Higgens said, “I've heard confident predictions on both sides of the matter. On one hand, the bill is so riddled with errors that there's no way he will sign the bill into law. And on the other hand, he's facing a tough re-election bid this year so it would be difficult for him to veto the bill.”

    Joining the fight for a veto were: Copper Development Association, Chemical Industry Council of California, Non-Ferrous Founders' Society, Southern California Water Committee, Building Owners and Managers Association of California, California Business Properties Association, California Building Industry Association, California Chamber of Commerce, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors, California Retailers Association, International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, Pacific Water Quality Association, Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association, American Standard, Black & Decker, Bradley, Chicago Faucets, Danze, Elkay, Fluidmaster, Fortune Brands, Guarantee Specialties, Gerber, Hansgrohe, Haws, Kohler, Masco, Moen, Neoperl, Sloan, T&S Brass, Tempress and Walter Zebrowski Associates.

    Higgens also wrote a letter to the Sacramento Bee expressing opposition to AB 1953, published Sept. 10. In the letter, Higgens referred to a recent amendment that exempts a group of products with higher lead content that are manufactured by the bill's supporters.

  • California Assembly Bill 2496
    California Assembly Bill 2496 passed out of the legislature in late August as part of a water conservation bill that also increases the water efficiency of conventional toilets sold in the state starting in 2009. The bill mandates no more than 1.3 gallons per flush (down from 1.6), or dual flush toilets that have a full 1.6 gallon flush for solid waste and a half-flush (less than 1.1. gallons) for liquid waste, for all new toilets and urinals installed or sold in California, effective in 2009. It includes a phased timeline to allow manufacturers and contractors time to adjust.

    More than 80 toilet models currently on the market are said to meet the new standards.

    The bill also establishes no-flush urinal health and safety guidelines and requires buildings to have the infrastructure to support traditional urinals even if the building originally installs no-flush models.

    Both the California State Pipe Trades Council and Falcon WaterFree Technologies, a no-flush urinal manufacturer, support the bill.