On Sept. 30, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared the proposed water softener ban AB 2270 went too far as he exercised his authoritative right and declared “no” to the proposed legislation. Many months of hard work and passionate public-awareness efforts were repaid with this veto, and those in the water treatment industry who supported these efforts should be commended for the work you have done to help make this possible.
The Water Quality Association (WQA) and Pacific WQA, working with big-box companies, major brand names and individual members of the industry, formed a powerful coalition to oppose the bill, sending thousands of letters of opposition to legislators.
These groups also placed advertisements in the Sacramento Bee and sent out more than 12,500 postcards to consumers in California with water softeners, educating them on the proposed legislation and what it would mean to them if passed. “First you lose your investment in your water softener,” the postcards read. “Then you’ll pay higher prices due to the costs of using hard water.”
These lobbying efforts and public-awareness campaigns energized the industry, and whether in agreement or disagreement, I believe water treatment professionals came together to work toward a greater whole and certainly sparked a lively discussion that should not cease anytime soon.
And while this veto is indeed a victory for the water treatment industry, we must be careful not to celebrate for too long, if at all really. Faced with a budget impasse, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed 415 of the 1,187 bills that reached his desk as a looming deadline approached. At a 35% rejection rate, the bill terminator set a modern-day record for vetoing legislation.
Now I am not saying that the Governor’s veto tirade and relationship with the Legislature had anything to do with the fact that AB 2270 was one of the bills he gave a thumbs down to; however, I believe that we should not feel as if victory has been declared and we now can relax.
I am sure we will see similar legislation proposed as we move forward from AB 2270.
With the upcoming Nov. 4 election, residents within the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District in Los Angeles County, Calif., for instance, will vote on the approval of Measure S, which would authorize the adoption of an ordinance that requires the removal of—and provides a compensation program for—all residential self-regenerating water softeners that discharge brine into the sewer system within the district.
If passed, the ordinance would require every consumer with a water softener installed in their home that discharges into the sewer to remove and dispose of the softener within 180 days after the effective date of the ordinance.
If this is any evidence, I don’t think the legislative fight against water softeners will subside anytime soon. But if we continue to work together as an industry to educate the public and legislatures, and make them aware of the fact that water softeners are merely a convenient target for salinity issues, then we should be able to continue winning the war on water softeners.