Water Softeners and Total Dissolved Solids

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The City’s Water Supply….and YOU!

The Problem: High TDS Levels

High Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) levels have been detected in our City’s Wastewater. This has been attributed to the overuse of water softeners in our rapidly growing community.

Pflugerville’s Water Supply

The City of Pflugerville used to rely on groundwater from the Edwards Aquifer as its sole water supply. Groundwater naturally has a higher mineral content and is harder than surface water. With the explosive growth of the region, the Edwards Aquifer is no longer considered an adequate water source for Central Texas. As a result, Pflugerville implemented the Colorado River Water Supply Project, which transformed the City’s primary water supply source from groundwater to surface water.

What Do Water Softeners Have To Do With The TDS Problem?

wsMost often, high levels of TDS are caused by the presence of potassium, chlorides, and sodium in the water. Water softeners remove water hardness by using salt to initiate an ion exchange. If the water softener is operating properly, it’s usually not a significant problem. Unfortunately, many older water softeners tend to cycle more frequently than necessary and can significantly overload a system. The backwash flushes pounds of used salt into your wastewater, which comes directly to the City’s wastewater treatment plant.

Many citizens’ water softeners are still treating water with the same levels of salt required to treat groundwater. These excess salts are harmful to helpful bacteria that help remove the harmful organic matter from wastewater at the treatment plant. This salty water ends up in our creeks, rivers, and lakes, where high TDS levels can have a negative impact on aquatic wildlife.

Overuse Could Cost City Millions

If TDS levels are not voluntarily decreased quickly, the City will have to take alternative actions. Because salt is already dissolved in the wastewater when it arrives at the treatment plant, it is not removed in the current wastewater cleansing process. Therefore, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will require the City to install a $15 million treatment system to remove the excess salt. Citizens will likely experience a rate increase to cover the cost.

The Solution:

The solution is simple and straightforward. Citizens can do their part to reduce the excessive salt levels in the wastewater by adjusting water softener settings to the correct dosage levels. Reducing amounts of salt used will, in turn, decrease the amount of total dissolved solids that end up in the wastewater at our treatment facility. As a City of Pflugerville wastewater customer, you may see money saved on softener salt per month as well as on the electricity and water you are conserving by not operating your water softener as frequently. You may even decide upon further consideration that a water softener is no longer necessary in your household.

In order to encourage responsible water softener use, the City of Pflugerville has instituted a Water Softener Replacement Rebate Program. Citizens replacing their timer-based softener with a new one that operates on a demand basis, after October 1, 2007, will receive a $200 rebate.

If the community works together to solve this problem and TDS levels are lowered to meet TCEQ standards, the City will no longer be required to install additional treatment facilities.

How Can I Help?

Please help the community and avoid a possible rate increase. Check and adjust the salt dosages on your water softener today! The TDS list indicates the water softener settings recommendations for your area. By checking these attached charts, you can see the complete information on the water hardness In your neighborhood. If you have questions or need help adjusting your softener dosage level, contact the City of Pflugerville Utility Billing Office.