Feb 28, 2017

Softening the Blow

POE system provides water conditioning in wake of softener ban

Some residents of San Clarita Valley are seeking water softener replacements. 

In 2008, nearly two-thirds of voters in California’s Santa Clarita Valley approved Measure S, enacting the Santa Clara River Chloride Reduction Ordinance of 2008. The ordinance required removal and disposal of all automatic water softeners in homes connected to the municipal sewer system due to concerns that the softeners were discharging high levels of salt to the sewer system.

A rebate for removal of an automatic softener had been in effect for several years before the ordinance was passed. For a limited time period after the vote, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District gave residents 100% of the “reasonable value” of a unit, in addition to paying for its removal and disposal.

Still Softening

According to a press release issued by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District mailed 2,500 letters to residents suspected of having automatic water softeners in their homes as part of a 2011 enforcement program.

By that time, the district already had removed 7,300 automatic water softeners within the district, according to Steve Maguin, chief engineer and general manager for the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District at the time. Maguin credited the number of removals to the district’s rebate and public outreach program. “This has led to a very substantial decrease in the salt levels in the water leaving the district’s water reclamation plants,” he said in a 2011 press release. Maguin estimated there were still approximately 500 automatic water softeners operating within the district.

In an effort to remove those remaining softeners, the district implemented an enforcement program. Residents who had automatic softeners were allowed 30 days to apply for a rebate, and another 30 days to remove the unit after they had received an authorization for rebate letter. Residents who received enforcement letters in error had 30 days to fill out a questionnaire and return it to the district. Residents who did not respond to the letters were subject to home inspections, and if a softener was found, they could be fined up to $1,000.

“This enforcement program will help remove the remaining automatic water softeners in the community. It will further lower the salt concentration in the water going to the river, and ultimately save Santa Clarita Valley residents and businesses a substantial sum of money,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean in a 2011 press release.

Finding an Alternative

A customer living in Santa Clarita was still in possession of his softener, and was informed it had to be removed. Water hardness in that area of Los Angeles County measured 25 to 30 grains, and most residents needed water conditioning to protect their pipe and appliances.

Two different point-of-entry (POE) systems were proposed to the customer: a three-stage water conditioning system using nucleic-assisted crystallization, a catalytic technology, in a mineral tank to break down minerals into harmless nano-particles, along with a sediment prefilter and catalytic carbon mineral tank; or a United Filters Intl. Trident three-stage water filtration system configured with Siliphos scale inhibitor media. The media, made of glass-like polyphosphate silicate spheres, can be used as a scale-sequestering media in a variety of applications. The media slowly dissolves and is emitted into the water like a time-release capsule, stopping minerals from sticking to pipe and appliances. It also can clean existing scale from pipe, and works with water heaters and boilers.

The customer chose the Trident three-stage POE system because it reduced more contaminants. The system included the following filters:

  • Stage one: Fast-flow ULTRA-D submicron filter for reduction of dirt, sand, sediment, viruses, bacteria, cysts, lead, other heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs);
  • Stage two: ULTRA-D submicron filter with powdered activated carbon and bacteriostatic silver to reduce chlorine, chloramines, viruses, bacteria, cysts, lead, heavy metals, VOCs and trace pharmaceuticals; and
  • Stage three: Carbon wrap filter with Siliphos hexapolyphosphate scale inhibitor down the center for reduction of chlorine and scale (calcium and magnesium).

After three months of use, the customer reported his water had a pleasant flavor. He no longer felt the need to use bottled water, and preferred to use the filtered water. Water spots were significantly reduced on glassware and shower enclosures, and any spots left could be easily wiped off. There also was no noticeable buildup of scale in water-using appliances.

About the author

Susan White is a freelance writer and marketing consultant for water treatment professionals. White can be reached at [email protected].

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