If you live in an area or region affected by softener regulations you are keenly aware of the situation. In short, there are areas of the country, even whole states, where salt based softeners are banned or restricted. If you live in an area where salt softeners are banned then you already know the ban is very real. You may not know why and that is what this post is about.
The key to the ban is salt waste in the environment
To understand how a salt softener creates salt waste you need to know how a salt based softener works. Inside the softener tank is a specialty softening resin.
- In its ready state the resin attracts hardness and replaces it with sodium.
- When the resin reaches capacity it no longers exchanges sodium for hardness and must be regenerated. During the regeneration process the resin is flushed with large volumes of concentrated salt. A small amount of sodium replaces the hardness on the resin making the resin ready to remove hardness again. .
- During the regeneration process many gallons of salty wastewater (usually over 100) containing high concentrations of salt (as much as 260,000 ppm) are created and sent to the environment (on the ground, onsite septic or municipal sewer). This salt removed and builds up in our soils and water supplies.
Rising levels of salt in our water supply is very problematic. This is especially true for farmers who rely upon this water to raise and produce crops. Simply put, high salt levels in the water used by farmers damages and even kills their crops. If rising levels of salt were ignored and allowed to continue we could see a time where farmers are not able to produce crops to feed our nation. To top it off, if salinity levels are allowed to rise to the point where farmers cannot raise crops there is no practical way to reduce that salinity via man made solution. Perhaps time would eventually dilute the concentration or flush the salt to the ocean but this is not known.
Salt Softener Bans:
Because rising levels of salt in our water supply is such a serious problem there are several areas around the county, most located in California, where there is an outright ban on salt based softeners. Some suggest switching from typical softener salt (sodium chloride) to potassium chloride but, in this context, it doesn’t make a difference. Both sodium and potassium chloride produce waste that can’t be treated via typical municipal sewer treatment systems. Where bans are in place neither sodium or potassium are allowed, both are banned. Because the ion exchange process cannot work without these salts alternatives must be considered. Check out what the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County have to say here.
Salt Softener Restrictions:
There are softener restrictions in areas around the country dictating where the waste from a salt softener can be disposed. There are many states that have regulations preventing disposal of salty softener waste into on-site septic systems. This effectively eliminates salt softeners as a treatment for hard water where there is no municipal sewer treatment option available.
What options do you have?
There are several technologies or processes that address hard water problems without the use of salt. For whatever reason you may be looking to address hard water without using salt you may end up finding a treatment system you absolutely love even more than a salt based softener. One of the oldest hard water treatments is polyphosphate. Polyphosphate is used by many municipalities across the nation to control mineral scale buildup.
Some polyphosphates such as our own PolyHalt® have even more capabilities than a salt softener. In addition to treating hardness a single PolyHalt® treatment unit will address iron, manganese, low pH and even silica problems for the whole home or business all in a small sized saltless cartridge based system without producing wastewater or even requiring power. Learn more about PolyHalt®
Softener bans and restrictions are not new and they have not been reversed since adopted. Texas, Kentucky and Montana all rewrote state septic tank regulations well over a decade ago. From <http://www.wqpmag.com/fighting-water-softener-bans>