Emily Jones, Pollution Prevention Specialist, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District
Next time you’re at Camp Randall Stadium, take a look around and picture twenty 50-pound bags of water softener salt stacked on top of each of the 80,321 seats. That’s about how much salt makes its way down the drain and to Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District’s wastewater treatment plant every year.
But the salt doesn’t stop there. The treatment plant isn’t designed to remove salt, so salt passes through the plant into local streams, where it can threaten freshwater life. Removing salt at the treatment plant would be expensive and energy-intensive, so MMSD is working to protect water more efficiently by reducing the salt that goes down the drain.
Steps you take at home to reduce salt can help make a difference, starting with your water softener. Water softeners contribute the majority of the salt that reaches the treatment plant, and older models can be using more salt than necessary. Increasing your softener’s efficiency can reduce salt to the sewer (and reduce your trips to the basement lugging heavy salt bags!).
Here’s what you can do to help protect water:
- Replace your old water softener with a more efficient model, especially if your current softener is a time-clock model. Choose a demand-initiated-regeneration softener, which regenerates only when needed.
- Schedule an appointment with a water treatment service provider to optimize your softener. In many cases, adjusting the settings on a water softener can reduce its salt use.
- Use the right amount of salt on sidewalks and driveways in the winter. Visit wisaltwise.com for winter de-icing tips.
- Spread the word! Tell friends, neighbors and coworkers about what they can do to keep our waters fresh.
Cutting down on our salt use can help protect our fresh water while keeping sewer bills low. To learn more, visit www.madsewer.org for information about MMSD’s salt reduction programs.