By Timothy Gardner and Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Friday he has directed his environmental regulators to find answers to what he said is a big problem - water-conserving showers, faucets and toilets.
"We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms," Trump told a meeting of small business leaders at the White House. "You turn the faucet on in areas where there's tremendous amounts of water ... and you don't get any water," he added.
He said the Environmental Protection Agency was looking "very strongly at my suggestion."
The fixtures "end up using more water," Trump told the roundtable where U.S. officials also reviewed his agenda of slashing regulations such as those on efficient light bulbs. "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once," he said.
EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said his agency is working with other departments so consumers have more choices in water products.
Due to concerns about shrinking U.S. water supplies, the federal government has regulated faucet and showerhead water flow since at least 1994, when Democrat Bill Clinton was president.
The EPA has long helped consumers go beyond federal water conservation standards. It sponsors WaterSense, a voluntary program on water-efficient showerheads and other products.
The EPA's website says that saving every drop counts because "water managers in at least 40 states expect local, statewide, or regional water shortages to occur over the next several years."
It was not the first time that Trump has emphasized water issues. In September, his EPA accused California's cities of violating clean water laws by allowing human waste from homeless residents to enter waterways.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed accused Trump of "taking swipes" at her city for "no reason other than politics." It was the latest clash between the Republican president and Democratic officials in the state.
Also in September, Trump's EPA repealed the 2015 Waters of the United States rule that had expanded protections for wetlands and shallow streams, but which farmers, miners and manufacturers decried as overreach.
Water-conserving fixtures may be a good idea in desert regions, Trump told the business leaders. "But for the most part, you have many states where they have so much water that it comes down. It's called rain. They don't know what to do with it," Trump said.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, Makini Brice and Jeff Mason; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)