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UPDATE: Homes may be inspected for softeners

$1,000 fine in SCV for illegal salt-dispensing water softeners

Posted: October 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 4, 2012 10:13 a.m.

Sanitation officials are launching a home inspection pilot program to crack down on residents clinging to illegal water softeners, officials announced Wednesday.

Despite a significant reduction in the amount of chloride ending up in the Santa Clara River — thanks to the prohibition of salt-dispensing water softeners initiated four years ago — a stubborn 10 percent of Santa Clarita Valley homeowners are still using illegal salt-generating automatic water softeners, said David Snyder of the SCV Sanitation District.

“More than 90 percent of the illegal softeners have been removed, but we’re still seeing some spiking of chloride levels,” Snyder said.“Removing those softeners is still the most controllable source of chloride.”

Homeowners failing to comply face a fine of $1,000.

Sanitation officials are expected to knock on doors of homes where they believe an illegal automatic water softener is still being used, then ask permission to inspect those homes, Snyder said.

How will they know if you’re using an illegal water softener?

From data such as sales receipts for water softeners — information provided by the people who sold the softeners — and through building permits, officials are expected to identify homeowners using illegal softeners.

The home inspection program is part of the district’s ongoing efforts to rid the community of illegal automatic water softeners and reduce the cost to the community of complying with state mandates for chloride in the district’s recycled water going to the Santa Clara River.

In 2008, close to two-thirds of Santa Clarita Valley voters approved Measure S, enacting the Santa Clara River Chloride Reduction Ordinance.  

The ordinance required the removal and disposal of all salt-generating automatic water softeners in homes connected to the sewer system.

The softeners use rock salt or potassium chloride pellets and send high levels of salt to the sewer system, Snyder said.

Though the district’s two wastewater treatment plants produce high-quality water suitable for recycling, they do not remove salt, he said. The recycled water leaving the treatment plants exceeds the state-set salt limit.

“The Santa Clarita Valley community has made an outstanding effort in cooperating with the district on the removal of approximately 7,800 automatic water softeners,” Grace Robinson Chan, the district’s chief engineer, said in a prepared statement.  

“This has led to a very substantial decrease in the salt levels in the recycled water leaving the district’s water reclamation plants,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are still illegal automatic water softeners in the community that need to be removed.”

More than 500 illegal softeners were removed last year when the district mailed letters to 2,500 suspect homeowners.

The home inspection pilot program is aimed at those stubborn homeowners still hanging on to their salt-generating units.

Violators can expect notices of violation, Snyder said, and have 30 days to apply for a rebate and an additional 30 days after the receipt of an authorization for rebate letter to remove the unit.  

Those who don’t apply for a rebate or remove their units within 30 days of receiving a notice of violation may be fined $1,000.



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