WaterTech Online ran a story yesterday noting a press release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cautioning against using a "water softener which requires a lot of water." EPA could not confirm to WaterTech Online whether the agency considers all softeners to be water inefficient or just some.
The story continues, quoting Water Quality Association technical director Joe Harrison who explained
that while water softeners do use a weekly average of 50 gallons of water during their regeneration cycle, they save water in the long run. He said softer water makes cleaning quicker, easier and more effective, thereby reducing the amount of water needed for each cleaning task.
Because they reduce mineral-scale buildup that makes water-heater elements less efficient, Harrison added, water softeners also help reduce the cost of heating water, thus reducing energy use.
For the past quarter century, water utilities, particularly in drought-persistent California, have imposed a series of technology-forcing salt efficiency standards on the water treatment industry, often at the cost of less water efficiency. The real concern was never salt, but stretching scarce water supplies. In the past, stretching water supplies was focused on reducing the impacts of water softeners on the environment and, particularly, on water quality. The U.S. EPA statement, however, aguably, focuses on the larger and more appropriate concern: how much water does a water treatment device require to deliver its designed benefits?
This may be the opening salvo in an assault on the current "salt efficiency" paradigm by those concerned with "water use efficiency."