Salt reduction anticipated at 20 percent.
In a move that will eliminate approximately 1,000 automatic water softeners from the Santa Clarita Valley, Culligan Water Conditioning of Orange County (www.culligan.com ) and the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District of Los Angeles County (Sanitation District) have entered into an agreement to remove all of Culligan’s rental units by mid 2009.
This voluntary agreement between Culligan and the Sanitation District is substantial progress toward the goal of eliminating use of all automatic water softeners, and will reduce chloride levels in the discharge of highly treated wastewater and help protect the Santa Clara River.
Culligan’s agreement will reduce the total number of automatic water softeners targeted for removal in the Valley by over 20 percent. Approximately one fourth of the remaining automatic water softener units in the Santa Clarita Valley are rented to residents. The agreement will not affect the use of portable exchange or alternative units, which are not problematic because they do not add salt to the water before it enters the sewer.
“By agreeing to remove all of their salt-discharging water softeners in the Santa Clarita Valley, Culligan has made a positive and significant contribution to the community by improving water quality in the Santa Clara River and helping to avoid costly rate increases,” said Steve Maguin, Chief Engineer and General Manager for the Sanitation District. “Eliminating these units is a high priority, and we commend Culligan for their progressive and environmentally friendly step. With this agreement, commitments have now been made to remove all rental salt-based automatic softeners in the Santa Clarita Valley.”
The City of Santa Clarita has long backed the Sanitation District’s work to lower chloride levels in the Santa Clara River. ”As we work toward ridding our Valley of automatic water softeners it becomes clear that partnerships such as the Culligan agreement announced today, in addition to the good stewardship by our residents, is vital in removing salt from the Santa Clara River,” remarked Mayor Bob Kellar, Santa Clarita.
In an effort to rid the valley of remaining automatic water softeners, the Sanitation District launched a new automatic water softener rebate program in May, offering residents 100 percent of the reasonable value of their automatic water softener—ranging from $325 up to $2,000—as well as free removal and disposal by a licensed plumber. These rebates are consistent with the terms of SB475, legislation authored by Senator George Runner (R – Senate District 17), and signed into law in 2006. Residents wishing to have their softener removed should call the toll free line at 1-877-CUT-SALT.
“Culligan is very pleased to work with the Sanitation District to remove automatic water softeners in the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Culligan’s Regional Manager for Western Operations Jackie McCaleb. “We know that protecting a valuable environmental resource such as the Santa Clara River is the right thing to do. Culligan continues to offer several point of use water treatment options to residents that are both cost-effective and environmentally acceptable.” Culligan plans on offering all of their automatic water softener customers acceptable alternatives for their water treatment needs.
The Sanitation District’s water reclamation plants provide extensive treatment and produce water equivalent in quality to drinking water, but do not remove salt. Current chloride discharge levels are above the level that the State Regional Water Quality Control Board has established. If salt levels discharged into the river do not decrease, the Sanitation District may have to install additional treatment equipment resulting in Valley residents’ annual sewer bills substantially increasing to more than $500 per household, because treatment for chloride may cost more than $350 million. If all automatic water softeners aren’t removed now, sewer bills may be higher forever.
In March 2003, it became illegal to install new automatic water softeners in the Santa Clarita Valley. Through a response to public education efforts, the fraction of households in the Santa Clarita Valley operating automatic water softeners has dropped, but not enough to comply with the Regional Board’s strict chloride requirements for the Santa Clara River set to protect downstream agriculture. With the new rebate program, the time has come for everyone to remove their automatic water softener.
Alternatives to automatic waters softeners use salt-free water conditioning techniques that are not harmful to the Santa Clara River . Residents can easily identify the best replacement system for their home. The Sanitation District provides an interactive Web site that allows residents to research 50 alternative products, including reviews of the products by fellow Santa Clarita Valley residents. A full list of approved alternatives can be found at www.lacsd.org/chloride .
The Sanitation District serves the wastewater management and solid waste needs of the Santa Clarita Valley. The role of the Sanitation District is to construct, operate, and maintain a regional system to collect, treat and dispose of wastewater and to provide for management of solid wastes. The Directors of the Sanitation District are the mayor and a designated City Council member of Santa Clarita and the Chairperson of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.