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Support Measure S

Posted: November 1, 2008 3:01 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2009 5:00 a.m.
Recently, people asked for more detail on Measure S, the rebates to homeowners with automatic water softeners. I’m happy to provide some more information.

Yes on S will save homeowners and businesses money.

According to the Sanitation District, the self-regenerating “old style” softeners (the kind you add salt to ... not the kind with exchange tanks) contributed 25 percent of the chloride loading in our river in 2007.
They alone put out a staggering 6,082 pounds per day of chloride compounds. Originally our area had about 6,500 of these kinds of softeners — and 3,400 are committed to be removed so far.

That leaves 3,100 to be removed. Since people have alternatives and can be paid fairly for the removal of the old kind, it makes sense. Preventing pollution is always cheaper than treating it after the fact.

The only single source that is a bigger contributor to chloride loading is, amazingly, our state water supply. Water channeled through earthen levees in the Sacramento Bay Delta picks up chlorides, including from seawater intrusion.

Politicians statewide have been unable to reach agreement on that fix for decades. For now, Measure S will let us fix the largest local chloride source.

The chloride issue is indeed complex. I strongly disagreed with the shortcuts taken to arrive at the current blanket chloride limit, but the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s decision is final.

In the most extreme sense, it could dictate special treatment including a brine line all the way to the coast. Now a multitude of agencies are working on an alternative that will propose staggered limits while still improving the downstream water supply.

This would make more sense and save money. If that is approved, a much smaller treatment system would work, and there would be no brine line needed.

Anything we can do to get the chlorides out up front will reduce the size and cost of treatment, and save us all money while improving our environment and water quality. 

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