By Lisa S. Martin for Solvang Public Works Department

Protecting our local groundwater supply is critical, the city of Solvang said.

Traditional salt-using, self-regenerating water softeners, the kind that use rock salt or potassium chloride pellets, pose a serious water quality problem for our community and local groundwater basin, the city reports.

“On average, a single conventional self-regenerating water softener contributes as much as 50 lbs. of salt each month to the
Solvang Wastewater Treatment Plant and recharge facility,” said Matt van der Linden, Solvang Public Works director.

The Solvang wastewater treatment plant treats sewage but is not designed to remove salt, and that salt ultimately ends up in the groundwater and water supplies, the city said.

Salt is the single greatest constraint on the future ability to use groundwater, the most reliable and drought-proof local source of water supply, the city said.

“In comparison, a salt-free portable exchange tank water softener discharges no salt, and thus produces no harm to our groundwater and water supplies,” said van der Linden.

A sensor equipped ultra-high efficiency water softener contributes only 8-16 lbs. of salt per month, which is up to 42 pounds less per month than a conventional salt-using, self-regenerating unit, the city said.

Solvang is launching a new Upgrade Rebate Program to help reduce the amount of salts that end up at the city’s wastewater treatment plant and recharge facility.

An upgrade rebate is being offered to Solvang residents who replace their old conventional self-regenerating (automatic) water softener with a salt-free canister type (portable exchange tank) water softener, or a new high-efficiency or ultra high-efficiency twin sensor water softener.

The rebate is offered in the form of a $400 credit on a resident’s water bill. Residential water/sewer system customers must submit a completed application, with the required information attached, to the city of Solvang at 1644 Oak St., Solvang, CA 93463; attention: Utility Billing Clerk.

The application form and program guidelines are at cityofsolvang.com.

The Water Softener Upgrade Rebate Program will run through June 30, 2019, or until funding runs out, whichever occurs first.

For more information or questions about this program contact the utility billing clerk, 688-5575, or kristinr@cityofsolvang.com.

— Lisa S. Martin for Solvang Public Works Department.