We have a water softener (“Hey, Culligan Man!”). In Pasadena, this is a very good idea, because about 40% of the water supply comes out of an aquifer loaded with minerals. If you don’t soften your water, your pipes pick up mineral deposits, and slooooowly get smallllller and smallllller on the inside. I should have taken a picture of what the pipes looked like when we replaced the water heater – suffice to say, our 1″ outside diameter pipe has less than 3/4″ inside diameter… closer to 1/2″.
Culligan sent me snail-mail spam saying that California is going to make water softeners illegal, and come onto my property and kill me and my children and rip off my water softener and take it down to wherever those commie-pinko liberal nanny state people take poor defenseless water softeners and cackle maniacally while they sacrifice it to the EPA gods (I’m paraphrasing).
A little research shows that this isn’t precisely what’s going on… I found the notes on AB 2270 online. From the bill:
The authorization of local regulation of water softeners is the more controversial part of this bill, and arises out of a long history of legislative debate over water softeners, dating back 25 years. The Health & Safety Code includes provisions for use of residential water softeners and suggests that Californians have a “right to a water supply that is effective and functional for domestic requirements.” The statutory connection to water softeners seems to imply a right to use water softeners to achieve that “effective and functional” water supply. The statute therefore limits local agency authority to regulate softeners, requiring the agency to make certain findings as to the necessity of such regulation. (Cal. Health & Safety Code 116786.) These findings must be substantiated by an “independent study of discharges of all sources of salinity,” and the agency must enforce limits on non-residential saline discharges before limiting water softeners. Limits on softeners may only be prospective, barring any requirement of removal of existing water softeners and allowing owners of such softeners to continue discharging salt into community sewers. Advocates of this bill assert that these requirements are burdensome and costly, discouraging local agencies from doing anything about softeners’ saline discharges, which can exceed a pound of salt each day from each softener.
What I read from this bill is that salinity in the water is a real issue affecting water reclamation, and that water softener companies have been lobbying hard against putting any restrictions in water softener use. Given that water is a big, big, big issue in California, I think it’s probably likely that restrictions on water softener use are going to happen, and we’re going to have to deal with the fallout of this at some point. Cities can’t make the requirements set by the state without either preventing salt outflow into the sewer system, or performing remediation on the water in the sewer system to remove the salt. The second is undoubtedly expensive, so the first is likely. I guess our next water softener will be more expensive… at least Kitty or I won’t have to lug around 200 lbs of salt every time we need to refill the thing.