Pros & Cons

California recently passed Assembly Bill (AB) 2270, legislation that gives local communities the right to ban the use of water softeners. The Water Quality Association (WQA) has asked its members to write to California legislators to express opposition to the bill. Water Quality Products received comments from readers regarding AB 2270, both for and against the legislation, which can be found below.

After receiving a letter in favor of AB 2270 from Ronald Osten, CWS VI, CI, Superior Water Conditioners, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Scott Sanderson, vice president of sales, Superior Water Conditioners, Stephanie Harris, managing editor of WQP, gained further insight to their position.

Ronald Osten: It’s not that we’re against water softeners in any way—there is a place in the industry for softeners and there always has been—we just feel that in certain situations, like in California and other states, we should investigate different alternatives.

In the industry, there are certain situations where softeners might be a better alternative than other methods. The ban is what it is; we just want everyone to know that there are alternatives.

Scott Sanderson: There’s a concern with chlorides going back to the extracts, and that’s why this has been put in front of legislators. We’re not completely in favor of the ban, although there obviously is an issue with the chlorides going back and that is what started all of this.

The reason Ron responded the way he did with his letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger is because these companies that are manufacturing water softeners are going to have to come up with a better way of reducing the chlorides, whether it is an alternative with our technology or improving the systems they have to reduce the chlorides, making them more green. Although our technology does not soften water, it does provide scale control. There is a place in the market for water softeners, but in the areas that are having problems with high chlorides, it is being addressed.

With conventional water softening, you replace one ion of calcium for two ions of sodium. Our technology does not remove calcium—which is good for your body—we are putting the positive and negative ions that make up the calcium and magnesium in a suspended state so they act like likes for a period of time so they will repel one another. If you can get the positive and negative ions that make up the calcium to repel one another, they are not able to form together and plate out and cause scale.

Osten: Now that AB 2270 passed, we have been asked again to write to the California Legislature to oppose this bill. The bill passed for a reason. I think this battle is over and the WQA and its members fighting this legislation should invest their resources into finding solutions for these areas.

For more information, contact Ron Osten at [email protected], or contact Scott Sanderson at [email protected].

Bob Boerner, president of Culligan Southwest, Inc. and co-chair of the WQA Onsite Issues Task Force, talked with Rebecca Wilhelm, assistant editor of WQP, about the cons of a water softener ban.

Bob Boerner: California has proposed legislation that would give local communities the right to ban the use of water softeners if they feel these might be contributing substantially to the sodium and chloride levels seen in the facilities that are trying to reclaim wastewater for other uses. This is counter to the rules that have been in the books, which require each municipality to make a scientifically based study to consider all influent sources of these substances before issuing a blanket ban on any one source.

California, no doubt, has serious water issues due to both their high population densities and water shortages, but this new right to ban water softeners overturns years of hard work by the major effected parties in the issue and it not science-based.

Water softeners provide real, quantifiable benefits to homeowners and to the environment, factors that should be considered when its use is challenged. Savings of energy gained from clean, unscaled water heating elements and reduced soap and harsh cleansing agent usage also help to offset the regenerates used, which themselves have been minimized in the past few years with widespread use of demand-initiated regeneration softeners.

Newer technologies promise even greater softener efficiencies. Protected plumbing systems and the appliances and fixtures they feed are a real benefit in reduced costs and maintenance to the consumer as well. It would make good sense to factor all the benefits of verifiably soft water into any decision to restrict their use, coupled with a requirement to use the most efficient technology available.

There currently exists no scientifically proven substitute for the ion exchange water softener that fulfills the consumers’ needs. Ion exchange water softening is robust and reliable—it always removes water hardness to less than one grain per gallon and provides soft water benefits. Performance of the ion exchange water softening technology can be measured, tested and certified.

Water quality improvement products provide consumers with valuable tools to improve the quality of their lives and restricting or limiting their use should be considered with care and common sense. With the correct approach, both the consumer and the environment can win.

For more information, contact Bob Boerner at [email protected].

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About the author

Stephanie Harris is managing editor of Water Quality Products. Harris can be reached at 847.391.1007 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Rebecca Wilhelm is assistant editor of Water Quality Products. Wilhelm can be reached at 847.954.7958 or by e-mail at [email protected].