Utilities. DPW, Water & Sewer

Using Potassium Instead of Sodium Chloride in Water Softeners

Using Potassium Instead of Sodium Chloride in Water Softeners

Hamburg General Ordinance 82
 - Water Softener Ordinance

NOTE: All homes and business establishments with sewer service are required by Hamburg Township Ordinance to use potassium chloride in water softeners. Sodium chloride is prohibited.

The Hamburg Township Wastewater Treatment Plant is required to monitor effluent for a variety of substances.

Water test results have shown that sodium and chloride are present in higher concentrations than the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment (MDNRE) allows.

The higher concentration levels are undoubtedly caused by:

  • salt used for water softener regeneration
  • the discharge of the resulting brine solution into the public sewer system.

Installing a system to remove sodium and chloride at the Hamburg Wastewater Treatment Plant is extremely cost prohibitive.

The most efficient method to remove sodium and chloride is at its generation sources.  The generation sources are homes and businesses in Hamburg Township.

Hamburg Township Ordinance 69 already prohibits discharging water softener backwash into the sewer system.   A property owner must route the backwash to a drywell or direct it onto the ground.  Although the backwash contains a significant amount of sodium and chloride, this method of disposal does not address the entire problem.

Softened water contains a certain amount of sodium depending upon the naturally occurring hardness of the water.  The harder the water, the more sodium it will take to soften it.  Therefore, softened water itself can have a higher value than is permissible at the Hamburg Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

In order to combat this problem, Hamburg Township encourages the following for its sewer customers:

  • Use potassium chloride in their water softeners instead of sodium chloride.
  • Check to see how often the water softener is set to regenerate.  Typically, softener units are set to regenerate more often than necessary, causing more salt to be released into the sewer effluent and environment, and costing property owners more money by having to purchase salt more frequently than necessary.
  • Another solution is to install a devise that removes the hardness and iron from the water without using salt, or contracting with a company which performs offsite regeneration.

It is important for Hamburg Township to be proactive with this issue of  reducing sodium chloride levels in the Wastewater Treatment Plant effluent. 

If the levels are not reduced, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDRNE)may decide to impose penalities for the excess sodium chloride levels in the effluent until the levels are reduced.  In such a case, sewer rates would be increased to pay for higher sewer system operating costs incurred by paying the penalties.

Updated:  February 17, 2017

Utilities. DPW, Water & Sewer