May 2003: Volume 45, Number 5
California Dreamin’ (or Is It a Nightmare?)
by Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor
As if we didn’t already have enough on our plate as an industry, once again, we’re confronted by the prospects of fighting legislation on all fronts in California.
Last month, we told you about the decision by the city of Santa Clarita to pass a softener ban effective March 25 because the city was out of compliance with federal wastewater guidelines on chloride discharges into the Santa Clara River. Of course, in many areas of California—particularly in these times of drought—simply running your tap will put a community in violation of these guidelines.
That was a point acknowledged at the WQA Convention in Las Vegas also in March, where it was mentioned also the city of Fillmore is mulling a $185 water use surcharge for homes with softeners. You can find a comprehensive review—the most detailed you’ll find anywhere—of the event in this issue with a meeting-by-meeting “synopsis” on our website. See "Tumbling Dice: WQA Gambles (in Vegas) on Open Framework for New Strategic Plan" and "Doubling Down in Vegas: WQA Convention Meeting-by-Meeting Review" in this edition.
Now, we find out legislation, Assembly Bill 334, was reintroduced April 10 by Jackie Goldberg (Dist. 45-L.A.) to repeal portions of 1999’s Senate Bill 1006 that the WQA lobbied for successfully to prevent unrestricted bans on softeners and drinking water treatment devices. These restrictions were included as part of a compromise in SB1006’s passage whereby the industry agreed to meet stricter brine efficiency guidelines in exchange for freeing communities to ban equipment once they met a series of conditions that showed a good faith effort to assess all brine contributors and police them as well. AB334 would lift many of those restrictions, allowing bans virtually regardless of whether a community was in violation of federal regulations. As such, homeowners would lose the right to improve the water in their homes.
We wonder sometimes if other industries are approached in the same manner as the POU/POE market and what restrictions have been placed on dish and clothes washers, laundromats, dry cleaners, toilets, pools and spas. WQA government affairs liaison Carlyn Meyer points out some are being restricted in California, particularly home appliances such as clothes washers. One market avoided is led by the Soap & Detergent Association—see www.sdahq.org—some of whose members we know: Bayer, Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive, Dial, Dow, Dupont, Ecolab, P&G, Rohm & Haas, Unilever... Ironically, she adds, the attack on SB1006 comes at just the point when it’s proven effective: “SB1006 works… This bill was carefully crafted and serves as almost a textbook example of how an effective compromise with industry can be reached.” She notes Santa Clarita followed all the guidelines in assessing chloride contributors, unlike Fillmore (which now has funded such a study), and pushed for reductions across the board before banning softeners. A bedroom community without much industry to speak of, Santa Clarita has about 11 percent market penetration in softener use with much higher figures—as high as 70 percent—for newer developments. The only question is whether a softener ban will put it into federal compliance, another stipulation of SB1006. We’ll keep an eye on the issue and keep you informed.
Meanwhile, if you feel like commenting on AB334, send your opinion to Ms. Goldberg at: email@example.com
To learn more about related legislation in California, see:
• Official California Legislative Information1: www.leginfo.ca.gov
• California Department of Health Services, Drinking Water Regulations: www.dhs.cahwnet.gov/ps/ddwem/publications/Regulations/regulations_index.htm
• “MWD/USBR Salinity Management Report,2 Appendices 2: Water Softeners,” June 1999: www.awra.org/state/socal/salinity_mgmt/TechnicalAppendices2.pdf
• “TMDL for Chloride in Upper Santa Clara River,” August 2002:
• Draft of 2002 Recycled Water Task Force’s White Paper of the Regulations and Permitting Group, November 2002: http://safewaterreuse.org/RegulationsWorkgroupWhite Paper17Nov02DraftVersionB.doc
• California Water Treatment Device Certification Law, 1986: www.dhs.cahwnet.gov/ps/ddwem/technical/certification/device/section10.pdf
In addition to California, we also have septic system discharge, plumbing code and building permit issues to track elsewhere in the country. The lobbying campaigns—and expense—for all of these underscore the need for a WQA (as well as local chapters) that is fiscally solvent and strong.
Lastly, we’d like to point out that you have a promotion included with this issue (in the polybag cover) for Water For People. In these times of economic austerity, let’s not forget to help organizations like this that give some sense of hope for clean water to those living in remote areas of Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, India and Malawi. For details, see www.waterforpeople.org
1. Click on "Bill Information" and enter bill number.
2. For full report, see: www.awra.org/state/socal/salinity_mgmt/FullReport.pdf