WQA to Provide Support for Dealers Affected by California Softener Legislation

Training sessions, multimedia campaigns will help dealers educate public officials and residents

Anticipating the enactment of AB1366, signed Oct. 12 by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Water Quality Association (WQA) and other industry leaders are moving to implement a plan to help local communities confront attempts at water softener bans in their towns.

The governor signed the bill while calling for a special session of the legislature to entirely discuss water issues. The law allows local governments in California to ban water softeners.

WQA will now activate a comprehensive plan to help local dealers educate public officials and residents when a ban is attempted.

“For the past two years, we have fought and worked to reform this bill,” said Peter J. Censky, executive director of WQA. “No bill would be ideal, but with this law, we believe we have the chance, through the democratic process, to stop unnecessary bans from being put in place.”

Last year, industry leadership helped persuade the governor to veto a ban bill. This year, as water issues became more prominent in California, language was also altered to soften the bill’s impact.

Before a local ban can be enacted, there is now a set series of public findings and hearings that must be accomplished.

Before a ban takes place:
• Regional water board posts meeting notice;
• Regional water board holds public hearing, may issue “finding”;
• Local governments can publicly consider ban in open meeting;
• After 30 days, local government may vote;
• Referendum may be demanded for 30 days; and
• Ban takes effect.

Regional boards are charged with basing their findings on “evidence in the record, such as a source determination study or other appropriate studies.”

Working with local dealers, the WQA will watch for attempted bans and will be prepared to launch multimedia campaigns to face any ban efforts.

Training sessions to help dealers will be offered for free in the areas affected, covering most of southern and central California and part of the northern section.

In the past, many communities have been putting bans in place without state authorization, forcing the industry into expensive lawsuits. With the system, at least the process will be open, Censky emphasized.


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