Why are water softeners being banned in California?

 

Salt-based water softeners have been at the forefront of hard water treatment solutions for 30+ years. As we evolve, our policies and awareness towards environmental conservation evolve with us. In recent years, a solution for environmental impacts, caused by salt-based softeners has become a global priority.

 

Environmental impact of water softeners

While added salt may not be a detriment to the health of a generally healthy household, the salt that is then discharged from one’s home/business into freshwater streams, rivers and aquifers are causing serious damage to our water supplies and aquatic life.  In addition, most city wastewater facilities do not have systems in place to remove the added salt from the water during the treatment process. Because agriculture depends on repurposed water coming from wastewater facilities, the water supplied to farmlands are thus supersaturated with the added sodium, damaging crop yields.

 

California Salt Water Softener Regulations

In 2009, California State issued a law allowing agencies to ban the installation of new saltwater softeners to homes and businesses that discharge water into community sewer systems. The law states  that this is a “necessary means of achieving compliance with waste discharge requirements issued by a California regional water quality control board”

 

Counties with water softener regulations are:

Over the years amendments have been made to allow counties more options while still keeping California’s sewer systems protected. Below are a couple of examples of what California counties are doing to prevent salt-water discharge and keep with California regulations.

 

Prior to 2012, the city of Dixon in Solano County adopted an amnesty program offering residents a financial incentive of up to $600 for removing their brine discharge water softener. After November 2012, all residents that did not take advantage of this program were subject to a fine for the continued use of a brine discharge softener. The city, however, provided financial assistance to residents for the removal of their softening systems including the fees for plumbing services.

Santa Clarita Valley Sewer District, located in Los Angeles County, has adopted and is enforcing regulatory requirements that require the removal of all installed residential self-regenerating water softeners and limit the volume and concentrations of saline discharges from nonresidential sources to the community sewer system. To support the community, Los Angeles County makes portable exchange water softening services available to residents affected by this ordinance.