By Karen R. Smith

I will start off by noting many folks were confused by last month’s Executive Insight column on Larry Gottlieb. We inadvertently ran a photo of one of his staff (sorry, Bill!) instead. With our apologies to Larry, the digital version of the issue on our website has Larry’s actual photo and I know many have been waiting for that. Our thanks to all the folks at Resintech for their good natured understanding and patience!

There I was at WQA Aquatech, feeling the future was bright with promise as I listened to CAP’s Paul Hendricks talk about the Phoenix Challenge…when word came that Assemblyman John Laird of California’s 27th Legislative District (portions of Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties) had amended a draft bill (AB2270) on statewide water reuse to make it into a softener ban. The amended portion of concern reads as follows:

…if the state board or a regional board makes a finding at a public hearing that the control of residential salinity input will contribute to achievement of water quality objectives, any local agency that maintains a community sewer system in an area affected by the finding may by ordinance take action to control residential salinity inputs, including those from water softeners, to protect the quality of the waters of the state.

To put it bluntly, nothing’s been the same since. We began by mobilizing PWQA members; then reached out to nonmembers throughout the state as well. WQA notified its members throughout the region and across the country. Letters of opposition began coming in, but we need more if we are going to prevent this draft from becoming the law of the land. Rather than tell you about the folks on our side, I’d like to share with you the thoughts of those in favor of this bill.

An excerpt from the support letter filed by the City of Dixon, California:

…Studies conducted by our wastewater consultant indicate that a significant source of salinity in wastewater is from salt-based, self-regenerating water softeners… Wastewater salt balance calculations prepared by consulting firms working for municipalities and sewer districts, including Dixon and others contacted in California, show that the most effective option for reducing the salinity of municipal wastewater, other than extremely expensive treatment plant processes such as reverse osmosis, is the elimination of existing residential salt-based, self-regenerating water softeners. However, water softener exchange programs offering cash incentives for citizens to “exchange” their softeners have proven ineffective in making substantial reductions in the number of water softeners in those communities where they have been tried, even when the case incentive was as high as $2000 per softener.

And from the California Association of Sanitation:

…Under existing law, unnecessary and overly burdensome requirements act as a barrier to effective local control of residential salinity inputs such as water softeners, even where such controls are critical to achieve water quality objectives. AB 2270 would ensure that a local agency has the tools to comply with increasingly stringent salinity limits…

I could continue citing the proponents here, but you get the picture…and California is, all too often, the bellwether state. It is for that reason that I ask members of the residential water treatment industry, regardless of their personal location, to write and oppose this legislation – and timing is of the essence. Please write by post or fax today to:

The Honorable John Laird
California State Assembly
State Capitol Building, Room 6026
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax 916 319 2127

If you will kindly fax or mail a copy of your opposition to me, PWQA/WQA’s lobbyist will be able to distribute copies to all the committee members who will be hearing input on this appalling bill.

Ultimately, if this bill proceeds through the legislature, it will go before Governor Schwartzenegger. He has refused to sign bills in the past that generated significant public opposition – as an industry, we need to speak out!

Tel: (916) 319-2027
916/319-2027

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