The grant program could serve as a model for municipalities with chloride issues that seek to protect the environment without restricting citizens’ access to water softeners
An effort by the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) has resulted in an program for reducing salt discharge in Madison, Wis. Since May 2013, WQRF has funded and facilitated a study by the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) to investigate the potential reductive effects of high-efficiency water softeners on chloride levels in the waste stream. After reviewing the preliminary results of the study, the MMSD has launched a grant program designed to encourage the reduction of chloride discharge levels without restricting residents’ access to water softeners. The MMSD grant program could serve as a model for municipalities with chloride issues that seek to protect the environment without restricting citizens’ access to water softeners.
Grants, which can be used to improve or upgrade water treatment equipment, will be available only for customer installations that use at least 1000 pounds of salt per month and discharge chloride into the MMSD sewage system. Applicants must measure their wastewater discharge data levels before and after implementation of the planned improvements, demonstrating a measureable and permanent decrease in chloride discharge to the sewer system at a cost of no more than $50 to MMSD per pound of chloride reduced.
Improvement projects costing more than $50 per pound of chloride reduced are still eligible for funding provided the customer pays for the commensurate portion. Projects with the lowest cost per pound of chloride removed from the wastewater stream will receive the greatest consideration, but additional consideration will be given to projects that can be completed by the end of 2015.
Some examples of eligible improvements include the following:
- Optimization of existing water softeners to improve efficiency and reduce salt usage;
- Replacement of older, less efficient softener models with newer, more efficient models;
- Upgrades to twin-tank systems that maximize the potential efficiency; and
- Brine re-use, recovery or recycling.
Ultimately success of the program will be determined by the magnitude of the reduction in chloride levels in water that reaches MMSD’s wastewater treatment plant. However, water treatment professionals who operate within MMSD’s service area can help ensure success of the program by assisting applicants with accurate measurement of the expected chloride reductions. Accurate measurement of the decrease in chloride discharge is critical to the success of this program and its potential to serve as a model alternative to softener bans around the country. After the improvement has been installed, the customer will need to test the wastewater effluent to confirm the extent of chloride reduction.
All grant applications must be received by 8 a.m. on October 19, 2015, and planned improvements must be completed by April 30, 2016, to be eligible for funding.