Salt Pollution – Where We Are Today

Defining the Problem

Urban salinity is an ancient issue, but also a modern one. What has changed is the scale of the problem. Our large communities change the very landscape upon which they are built, and without well-conceived water management policies for susceptible areas, the development of high chloride levels downstream of larger communities is inevitable.

Although the exact process does vary from watershed to watershed, urban salinity issues essentially begin when the natural environment under and around a community is changed. This occurs mostly because we replace the native plant life with lawns or garden plants that require far more water. Along with unfamiliar plants, we also add our road systems and other infrastructure, which change the drainage patterns from those established on the land before humans developed it.

Dissolved salts are naturally present in soil, groundwater, and rain. The salts from these sources are usually dispersed through natural processes. In areas where human populations are high, like cities and towns, this salt accumulation can outpace the environment’s ability to disperse it.

Where salt-based water softeners are prevalent the discharge of softener brine can often compound this problem. Ironically, the areas where softeners are prevalent are often also the same areas that are salt-sensitive because of the characteristics of the local water supply. The calcium and magnesium that a softener removes is a form of salt. So in a sense, when we use a salt softener, we are treating a salt problem by using more salt, just a different kind. This just drives salt levels ever higher. In extreme cases agriculture and wildlife will eventually be affected if salts are allowed to accumulate.

In the Southwest United States, among the responses to the urban salinity problem has been to ban salt-based water softeners across entire watersheds. Officials in the community of Santa Clarita, CA have plans to build a $250M Reverse Osmosis based waste water treatment plant, paid for by raising taxes, to help deal with their salt problem.

At Puroserve we believe that there is a much more sensible way. The installation of a better residential water system, using essentially the same technology that has been proposed to treat waste water, across a sufficient percentage of homes and businesses, would effectively solve the problem. This could be done at a fraction of the cost of taxpayer-sponsored treatment plants.

With low-energy Reverse Osmosis membrane technology and our innovative chloride stream diversion techniques, Puroserve has a solution today for the very old, but very current, problem of urban salinity.