EPA Fact Sheet:
“Softeners Will Not Harm Onsite Systems”

Posted 12/28/04

An EPA fact sheet explicitly states that studies are in our industry's favor. You might want to print out and use this statement at the first signs of a problem with inspectors in your area. Onsite Wastewater Treatment systems Special Issues Fact Sheet 3 states:

“Studies conducted by soil scientists at the University of Wisconsin and the National Sanitation Foundation conclude that the wastewater effluent generated from properly operating and maintained water softeners will not harm onsite systems that are designed, operated, and maintained appropriately. Specifically, the studies conclude the following:

  • High concentrations of calcium and manganese in the softener backwash water have no deleterious effect on the biological functions occurring in the septic tank and may, in some cases, be helpful.
  • The additional volume of wastewater generated (typically about 50 gallons per recharge cycle) is added slowly to the wastewater stream and does not cause any hydraulic overload problems.
  • Soil structure in the soil absorption field is positively affected by the calcium and magnesium ions in water softener effluent (Corey et al., 1977).

Regarding the last conclusion, some people have the misconception that the salt brine that enters the ion exchange tank also exits the tank as wastewater. In fact, the influent with its high concentration of sodium ions is very different than the effluent, which has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium ions. Consequently, the potential for chemical clogging of clayey soil by sodium ions is reduced. The calcium and magnesium input may even help improve soil percolation.”

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