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water softeneing and the enviroment pub softener
Water Softening and the Environment The Effects of Water Softening and Salt Use on the Environment The salt used by each homeowner's softener How does a Water Softener Work? Places to "Feed" softened water are: ultimately ends up in neighboring lakes, In many Wisconsin communities, people use water Hot water heater streams, rivers, and groundwater. Also, the softeners to remove minerals from their water that Laundry facilities salt spread on roads, driveways and sidewalks cause hardness. An ion exchange process is the tradi- Dishwashers ends up in lakes, streams, rivers, and ground- tional method of removing hardness from water. Toilets (consider low flush models) water. The cumulative effects of the salt used Hard water passes through a column .of sodium Showers can have toxic effects for aquatic plants and charged resin, where hard water ions such as calcium animals. Places to Bypass Using the Water Softener and magnesium are removed from the water by ex- changing places with the resin bound sodium ions. Include: Why Is Salt A Problem? Based on estimates from the Salt Institute of The water is then said to be "softened". ▪ Outside water spigots for yard use America, in 2005 Americans' spent approxi- Cold tap drinking water lines mately $359 million to purchase 3.7 million The resin is "exhausted" when it has given tons of salt for use in water softeners. up all or most of its available sodium ions. By softening more water than what is really The resin is then "recharged" with sodium needed, you increase the cost of operating your The primary salt utilized in home water sof- ions during a process known as regeneration. softener (in terms in increased payments for salt teners is sodium chloride (NaCl), a naturally During this process, the resin is washed with a con- and energy), and ultimately, more salt will enter occurring and commonly used substance. centrated brine solution (most often NaC1) that re- the environment as a result of increased softener NaCl normally breaks down into sodium verses the hardness removal process. regenerations. (Na+) and chloride (Cl-). These elements are discharged to the local wastewater treatment What Can I Do to Reduce My Salt Use minimum salt usage needed for plant via sanitary sewers. It passes through Usage? regeneration - Water softener regeneration [he treatment plant and is discharged to sur- If you find it necessary to soften your water, soften is most efficient at the beginning of the face water, where the chloride may impact only the water that needs to be softened. If you are brine cycle. The higher the salt dosage in freshwater organisms and plants, from plank- building a new house, remodeling bathrooms or the cycle, the lower the regeneration ton to fish, by altering reproduction rates, kitchens, replace old plumbing or installing a new efficiency. increasing species mortality and changing the water softener, consider where your water needs to characteristics of the entire local ecosystem. By setting your water softener to regenerate more be softened. Work with your plumber to connect In addition, as chloride filters down to the your water softener to only those areas that need sof- frequently and using less salt for each regenera- water table, it can stress plant respiration and tened water. tion, you may be able to increase your softener's change the desirability of our drinking water. regeneration efficiency, which could result in sig- nificant salt savings for you. Consult a qualified water softener represen- Also, use salt on sidewalks and driveways tative for details on how to adjust your water wisely. Carefully spread the salt on your softener to minimize salt usage while retain- driveway and walks so it does not ing enough softened water for normal house- overshoot the intended area. Also, use only hold use. the amount of salt that is required to melt the ice and snow. Switching from a Timer to a Demand Initiated Regeneration Control - To reduce or eliminate NaC1, our best alternative Many water softeners regenerate based on a is preventing the pollution at the timer typically set to regenerate once every 2 source of its generation - before it creates a or 3 days, depending on expected water us- more serious environmental problem. age and water hardness. By measuring actual Please do your part. demand on the water softener, "demand ini- tiated regeneration", or DIR controls are much more efficient in the regeneration process. These controls use either, a flow An Environmental Awareness Message meter or a hardness sensor to determine brought to you by: when to begin the cycle. The "payback" The Wisconsin Department of Natural period for adding a DIR control to your wa- Resources ter softener from reduced salt usage can be and as little as three years. Check with your local New Holstein's Wastewater Treatment qualified water softening representative to Plant see what is appropriate for your particular needs. Even if a newer, more efficient water softener is not in your immediate future, you can still optimize the efficiency of your home unit, resulting in savings for you and the environment. Installing low flow shower heads, low flush toilets, and only watering your lawn in the evening d help to reduce the volume of water softened.
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