Southern California has some of the hardest water in the state. Normal or medium-hard water rates 60-120 mg/L. Water in Los rates 127 mg/L. That means that every liter of Los Angeles tap water contains 127 mg of calcium or magnesium – the minerals that make water hard. These contaminants come from ground water that travels through mineral-rich soil.
Hard water can corrode your pipes and fixtures, discolor your clothing and make it difficult to bathe. The best way to combat hard water is by installing a water softener. Unfortunately, California has banned the use of traditional salt-based water softeners. Why did they do this given the state’s hard water? Let’s unpack the story and explore alternative options for safe, clean water in your home.
The Trouble with Hard Water
If you’ve seen spots on your dishes, had dry skin or crusty laundry, you’ve probably dealt with hard water. The excess mineral composition in hard water creates a number of issues for homeowners. Not only can it leave your hair or skin feeling dry and unclean, it can wreak havoc on your plumbing system or water heater. Hard water leads to corrosion. You may have noticed this in the form of stains in your sink or chalky residue on your faucet. Over time, this corrosion can clog your pipes and make them brittle. If you’re worried about damage from hard water, it’s important to have a plumber check your home’s pipes.
Does L.A. Have Hard Water?
Water hardness is typically measured by its total dissolved solids (TDS). A TDS measurement below 150 indicates soft or very soft water. A TDS rating between 150-250 indicates slightly hard water and a TDS rating above 250 indicates moderately hard to hard water with 420 or more signaling very hard water.
California water hardness can vary widely and averages between 100-300 TDS. In Los Angeles, water hardness varies depending on the area and water source. For example, Northeast Los Angeles reported a TDS score of 240 in 2022 while Kagel Canyon reported a TDS of 300 and Malibu reported a TDS of 334.
All of these scores put the municipal water for the region in the slightly to moderately hard range. This means that there are enough minerals in L.A. water to affect how it tastes and cleans. It also suggests that residents in some areas of Los Angeles will want some sort of water filtration or softening system.
Reasons for the Los Angeles Water Softener Ban
In L.A. and the state of California, the use of water softeners is subject to legal restrictions due to environmental concerns. Here are three ways the state has deemed water softeners as harmful:
1. California’s Water Crisis
California has faced numerous water-related challenges, including droughts, dwindling water supplies, and overdrawn groundwater resources. As a result, the state has implemented stringent regulations and conservation measures to preserve its precious water resources. Because water softeners use a significant amount of water during their regeneration cycle (20-65 gallons/month) , they are considered a drain on the water supply.
2. Salt Discharge and Water Contamination
Water softeners operate by removing minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from the water through a process called ion exchange. However, the discharge from water softeners contains high concentrations of salt, which can contaminate water bodies, harm aquatic ecosystems, and even seep into groundwater supplies. The cumulative effect of salt discharge from numerous softeners across the state can exacerbate California’s water quality issues.
3. Impact on Wastewater Treatment Facilities
Water softeners also pose challenges for wastewater treatment facilities. The high salt content in the discharged water places an additional burden on these facilities, as they must employ costly processes to remove the excess salts. Furthermore, the concentrated brine produced during a water softener’s regeneration process can overwhelm wastewater treatment plants and affect their efficiency.
Are Water Softeners Illegal in California?
In response to the above environmental concerns, California has implemented strict regulations regarding the use of water softeners. The state’s Water Quality Control Board has designated certain regions as “brine discharge control areas,” where the use of water softeners is prohibited or subject to specific requirements. Violating these regulations can result in fines and penalties.
How Can I Get a Water Softener System in Los Angeles?
While traditional water softeners may be restricted, California offers alternative solutions for managing hard water problems. Homeowners can consider using alternative water treatment systems, such as reverse osmosis or catalytic media filters, which are more environmentally friendly and reduce water consumption.
A reverse osmosis water filtration system can filter out many of the minerals that make your water hard along with other chemicals and compounds that make your water taste funny or corrode your plumbing. When these systems are installed by a licensed plumber, they provide continuous purified water to your home, maintenance free.
Manage Hard Water in California
You don’t have to suffer just because you can’t install a water softener. Los Angeles residents can call their local, smell good plumber/water expert, Mike Diamond. We’ve been battling Los Angeles water problems for over 50 years. Schedule your appointment today and put our expertise to work for you.