Chloride Discharge Standards in Water Softeners

Chloride discharge is one of the biggest topics in the water conditioning industry in Minnesota right now. The Minnesota Water Quality Association (MWQA) Convention is focusing on it for their annual meeting, as many communities have been affected by chloride discharge limits. If you haven’t seen discharge limits yet, prepare to, because you will probably be affected soon.


Why are regulations on chloride discharge so strict lately? It’s because Minnesota has an increasing salty water problem. Road salt runoff and water softener discharge is making its way into lakes and rivers. In the form of chloride, the salt is threatening freshwater fish populations and other aquatic life. Even just a small amount has the power to corrupt a body of water permanently. Larger amounts can put certain fish and plant populations at risk.


Because Minnesota is a cold weather state, we have double the negative factors working against us. Not only do we have an abundance of salt thrown on the roads each year to account for icy conditions, we are also known for having hard water. Hard water means that many individuals use water softeners, which use salt. More often than not, water softeners discharge to municipal wastewater plants. Because the wastewater plants are not designed to effectively separate the chloride from the wastewater, it ends up discharging into the river.


There is no easy way to solve this problem. Removing chloride from wastewater would require a reverse osmosis process, which is not only costly, but difficult. Cities could either provide softened water so that water doesn’t have to be softened separately at each household, or homeowners could switch to high-efficiency softeners. Because those methods have been seen as expensive in the past, what we’re seeing now are regulations placed upon chloride discharge in facility permits.


It’s clear in 2019 that we need to utilize numerous strategies to get the chloride problem under control. We need to better understand the environmental impact of chloride discharge, community treatment, and chloride reduction in communities. Optimizing water softeners can reduce chloride discharge and salt use significantly. If you want to take help do your part, schedule your free water test with Finken and we can help determine the best high-efficient water softener for your situation.

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