By Peter Censky

This past year, the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) and WQA poured a lot of money into two key studies that will pay real dividends for our industry for many years to come. I realize that most of those who were involved in the Battelle Study and the Soap Savings Study immediately saw their benefit in helping members sell more equipment. But the real benefit of these studies goes much further than that. In September, WQA President Robert ‘Bob’ Hague, traveled to Washington DC to brief key Congressional staff about the important energy-savings benefits that come from softened water (i.e., water that has been softened to remove calcium and magnesium). In this country, 13 percent of all household expenditures go toward heating water, and those costs can be reduced dramatically by removing calcium and magnesium from the water to prevent the buildup of scale deposits in hot-water heaters. The Department of Energy was very interested to hear Hague’s report because the kind of savings he was talking about will translate into huge energy savings for the country. Soon we will be releasing another study, this one on soap savings from softening water. Again, this kind of research will help sell more softeners. But there is a bigger story that is emerging from this research. It appears that households will use dramatically less soap when doing laundry in cold water when calcium and magnesium have been removed. And, get this, clothing comes out cleaner, too. Washington needs to know that this benefit helps communities as well because it is much more costly for their waste plants to remove the excessive soap residues caused by the presence of calcium and magnesium than it is to deal with slightly higher salinity in the waste stream. This will be another subject for a visit to Washington in the coming months.

Now, you may wonder, why we would bother reporting this to Congress. Well, the answer is straightforward enough. The regulators in Washington, and in your state capitals, have been demonizing softeners for too long; they need to hear the positive side of our industry. Yes, those products do put salt in the waste stream and in some areas, this is a problem. But it’s also a fact that our manufacturers have been spending millions of dollars over the past two decades to reduce the ’salt footprint’ of ion exchange water softeners, and they’ve been enormously successful at this. Regulators and homeowners need to understand that the pollution of our waste streams from the excessive use of soaps and detergents in cold-water laundry is a costly problem for many communities. Removing calcium and magnesium from cold and hot laundry water causes consumers to use less soap. The regulatory community needs to know this. And they need to know that the country could save massive amounts of money by reducing the high energy of heating water in hard-water areas. Both of these benefits come when you eliminate calcium and magnesium from water, which is what ion exchange softening does. There are other technologies out there that claim to reduce scale, but they don’t soften water! The removal of calcium and magnesium is what leads to the benefits I’ve mentioned above. This is what our industry means by ’softened water’.

Now this is just one of the briefings we conducted in Washington within the past few weeks. In October, we again briefed key Congressional staff about our industry’s capabilities to clean up the nation’s drinking water supplies. We call this the final barrier between consumers and the multitude of emerging health contaminants that will be hitting the news in the next two or three years. You will be hearing much more about this in the months and years to come. The bottom line is that our industry provides consumers with real protections and cost savings. And just as important, we provide our communities with those same savings and protections as well.

My last point is this: you have to be a member to be able to make use of the studies and the materials we are producing. And you really need to attend the upcoming convention in March 2011 in San Antonio, Texas to get the latest information, and to see the new technologies that are going to be rolled out at the trade show. If you haven’t been to a convention in a while, I guarantee this show will knock your socks off! I hope to see you in Texas in March; it will be a very profitable experience for you!

 

 

 

 

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