WHY IS THE SALT WATER SOFTENER
BANNED IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES?
In the last decade, several countries have banned or partially restricted the use of traditional decalcifier that works with salt. These systems waste a lot of water by mixing it with sodium. The presence of high levels of sodium in the water that goes to the drain has a serious environmental impact. For this reason, some countries have opted to limit their use, while advocating safer and more environmentally friendly solutions.
Pioneering countries against the water softener
In the United States, the debate about the environmental contamination caused by salt decalcifiers began years ago. Some areas, including entire states, have regulated the use of these systems.
In the case of California, a 2005 bill allows the different communities or municipalities to vote to decide on the prohibition of this type of water softener. This decision is often motivated by the threat of fines for not complying with environmental standards or by protests by farmers whose crops are damaged by sodium.
Since 2014, more than 25 Californian communities have banned the use of salt decalcifier. Other states such as Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, Massachusetts or Arizona have followed in their footsteps.
The prohibitions refer, for the most part, to the installation of water softeners and the dumping of salt water in homes with private septic systems, although some municipalities have totally banned their use to protect the aquifers from excess sodium.
Denmark has very strict quality criteria regarding drinking water. The standard Godkendt til Drikkevand establishes the requirements for the materials of treatment systems that come into contact with drinking water.
The salt decalcifier substitutes certain minerals for sodium, altering the chemical composition of the water and its potability, so these devices do not comply with the current Danish regulations and cannot be sold domestically in the country.
Environmental risks of water softeners
The traditional salt softener is based on ion exchange and has been used for years to remove lime and soften water. In short, it removes the minerals responsible for the hardness of water, calcium and magnesium mainly, and replaces them with sodium. This system is also known as "softener" or "softener".
The sodium released by the softener in each regeneration of resins has very negative effects on the water quality and, consequently, on the environment. These are the main potential problems of softening water with this type of water softener.
Plants without nutrients
Watering with water that has been treated by a classic water softener can be harmful to plants. Over time, the salt that contains the irrigation water accumulates in the soil. The high concentration of salt in the soil lowers oxygen levels and causes the soil to swell and compact, preventing plants from absorbing enough nutrients through the roots. In areas where rainfall is scarce, the salt does not seep enough into the soil to dilute it.
Less fertile lands
Even if treated water is not used to water the plants at home, it can reach the wastewater network through our daily activities, such as showering or washing clothes.
These waters are sometimes used for irrigation of parks or for agricultural uses. With the accumulation of salt in soils, they compact and lose vital nutrients, damaging existing vegetation, slowing the future growth of new plants and reducing crop yields.
Aquatic life in danger
Wastewater should be treated to eliminate the high levels of sodium chloride in those cities where the use of ion exchange decalcifiers is allowed. Higher salinity increases the cost of treatment and reduces the possibility of reusing wastewater for industrial or agricultural purposes.
The question is to decide what to do with the additional salt after treating the water. In some places, it ends up being poured into the ocean, into lakes or into rivers. It is a costly method that can have long-term negative effects on aquatic life.
The traditional salt softener can reject up to 200 liters of water in each resin regeneration. But there are other reasons why these systems favor over-consumption of water.
As we have explained above, the very compact earth does not absorb water well, so it is necessary to water more frequently to obtain the same result.
In addition, to prevent the salt accumulated in the earth from affecting the plants, it must be filtered. One of the simplest methods is to periodically flood the land with water. This will dissolve and make salt disappear, but also nutrients that are essential for the soil and that will have to be replaced by fertilizers and other chemicals.
It is also not advisable to drink water treated with a salt water softener due to its high sodium content, which can sometimes exceed the levels allowed for drinking water. The use of these decalcifiers should be combined with the installation of other domestic treatment systems. Some of them waste large amounts of water per liter filtered.