Water softening

Research is being conducted at the U of M and across the country to evaluate water softener impacts and options to reduce salt released by softeners into the environment. Learn more below about the impacts of salt on these systems.

Water softening in Minnesota

Much of Minnesota has hard water, characterized by high calcium and magnesium concentrations, and water softeners are commonly used to remove these minerals. Softened water provides benefits such as improved lather and reduced staining on washed dishes and clothing. Most water softeners in households are ion exchange softeners that use sodium chloride salt to remove hardness. The sodium chloride used by the water softener is eventually discharged to wastewater treatment plants or septic systems.

Approximately 100 communities across the state have high chloride levels in their wastewater treatment plant discharge that may exceed state water quality standards (see PDF below). Estimating chloride from water softeners provides valuable information to wastewater treatment plant operators, regulators, and community members to identify potential opportunities for chloride reduction and attaining water quality standards.