Recently, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District located just north of Los Angeles, California, initiated “inspections” of private homes suspected of harboring illegal salt based water softeners. Recalcitrant homeowners who so far have refused to remove their offending water softeners face a $1,000 fine.

In 2008, residents of Santa Clarita voted for a ban on water softeners because they were told that there was too much salt going through the waste treatment facility, more than the amount allowed by state and federal regulators. Residents supported the ban in order to avoid an expensive upgrade of the facility. However, since water softeners only add a miniscule amount of salt to waste water, the Sanitation District is being forced to install a $250 million filtration system after all.

“Salt based water softeners are the best way to treat hard water which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium,” said Morton Satin, Vice President of Science and Research for the Salt Institute. “These scale deposits increase energy costs by reducing the efficiency of dish and clothes washers and causing them to break down and need replacement more often. In addition, research has demonstrated the potential for hard water scale on taps and shower heads to harbor pathogenic bacteria.”

In washing machines, hard water requires the use of more soap and hotter water to achieve the same results. Salt-regenerated water softeners work by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium, as well as any iron, manganese or radium ions in the water and replacing them with sodium ions.

“The irony is that since the district is installing the salt filters anyways, there is zero benefit from banning water softeners. In the end residents will be stuck with hard water, higher energy and appliance costs, and will likely see their taxes increase to pay for the new water treatment system,” said Satin. “This is bad for consumers, taxpayers and the environment, not to mention a gross invasion of privacy.”


The Salt Institute is a North American based non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the many benefits of salt, particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition.

Morton Satin
Salt Institute

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