Jul 16, 2018

Water Softeners Contribute to Chloride Contamination in Minnesota

A new study found that water softeners are a significant culprit behind chloride contamination in Minnesota water bodies

Study finds water softeners contribute to salty water bodies
Study finds water softeners contribute to salty water bodies

A new study from the University of Minnesota found that home water softeners are sending a significant amount of salt into the environment. Researchers from the University’s Water Resource Center created a “chloride budget” to estimate how much salt enters the environment each year from different sources. While road salt was found to be the largest contributor, home water softeners were the fourth largest source.

The study found that overall in the state of Minnesota road salt contributes more than 400,000 metric tons of chloride annually to the environment, while home water softeners contribute approximately 140,000 metric tons of salt per year, as reported by Minnesota Public Radio.

“I think it will be surprising to a lot of people because we’ve been talking about road salt, road salt, road salt,” said Sara Heger, researchers with the Water Resources Center. “A lot of people don’t think about that their softener in their home is like that road salt–or that we’re another source.”

The study found that while most Minnesota water treatment plants are not equipped to remove chloride from water, home owners can take steps to mitigate the environmental impact of their water softeners. According to Heger, water softeners should be serviced regularly and should be set based on the hardness level of the water and not an automatic timer.