The narrative around many water treatment solutions has not always been particularly environmentally friendly. Major developments in the industry over the last two decades, however, tell a different story—one that needs to be conveyed.
As contractors, including plumbers, well drillers and others, often advise consumers and commercial businesses on water quality issues and potential solutions, it’s important that there is a solid understanding of what is now available.
A lot has changed in water treatment. Let’s set the record straight.
The Rise of High-Efficiency Water Treatment Solutions
Equipment, such as water softeners and other types of filtration, earned a bad rap for two reasons: the salt used to recharge media and aid in the ion exchange process and the amount of wastewater produced. Softener salt can end up in aquatic environments, and wastewater is created during regeneration or to flush out equipment such as reverse osmosis (R.O.) systems. Put simply, some believed water softeners used too much salt and water.
The water treatment industry has made great strides in manufacturing softeners that use salt more efficiently. That was the focus of most high-efficiency water softeners for years. What’s happening now is of even greater importance; newer equipment is much more effective at reducing water usage, which helps conserve a precious natural resource.
In fact, there is technology on the market that can help homeowners decrease both salt and water usage by as much as 50%. This helps protect our waterways, reduces energy, conserves water and saves the consumer money.
Beyond water softeners, manufacturers continue developing other ways to improve the efficiency and efficacy of their solutions. That includes better-performing, larger filtration cartridges, which provide improved retention and extend replacement cycle times.
Nearly every manufacturer of water treatment control valves has established ways to achieve high efficiencies. Those who are taking things to the next level are implementing technology that can dictate the amount of water being used during backwash, rinses and other functions.
Traditional metering systems are being replaced by high-end monitoring devices that allow for precise adjustments and give both the homeowner and the professional a clearer view into just how efficient a piece of water treatment equipment truly is.
Modern Homes and Advanced Water Treatment
The water softener has evolved along with every other appliance in the modern-day household. It has become “smart,” and it is connected to the digital world.
Homeowners who upgrade their in-home water treatment will now find they can access information and even control settings on their equipment remotely using a mobile device. Yet, the most-advanced water softeners can adjust themselves. That’s the power behind the data newer systems are able to collect.
Technology designed to improve efficiency monitors water usage in the home and adjusts to match the household’s habits based on historical data. This ensures the regeneration cycle only happens when it needs to and the right amount of water and salt is used to recharge the media.
Water softeners are also an important factor in supporting the ability of other water-using appliances to meet efficiency specifications. Without a softener, products that are meant to be environmentally friendly may not live up to expectations.
High-efficiency water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines are designed to run on soft water. Minerals in hard water can cause calcification, forcing appliances to work harder and longer to do their jobs. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) found scaling and sediment from hardness reduces water heater efficiency by 10%.
In the end, the minor inefficiencies of water softeners should be accepted if consumers want to achieve the kind of sustainable homes to which they aspire.
Addressing Emerging Contaminants
Today’s consumers tend to be quite concerned about their personal environmental impact. They’re also acutely aware of how contaminants and pollutants that negatively affect the environment have the potential to cause people harm.
Leaders and innovators in the water treatment industry are discussing those exact environmental concerns on a daily basis. What tends to be forgotten, however, is that the purpose behind many of the solutions being developed is mitigating the risks of water pollutants on public health and safety.
The Water Quality Association (WQA) describes these efforts as “final barrier treatment,” which involves technology that filters out contaminants at point-of-use to greatly improve the quality of water people actually consume.
Manufacturers are becoming more proactive in developing stand-alone solutions for these so-called “emerging contaminants” and for other known issues that get thrust into the public spotlight, such as lead removal.
Recently, the industry has been working on ways to address concerns over contamination from polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) and other industrial chemicals as well as pharmaceuticals and personal care products that may be polluting the water supply.
The point is, the general public should be viewing the water treatment industry as an ally in efforts to make the world a cleaner, safer and healthier place. Contractors who discuss water quality concerns with home and business owners can help dispel the myths and misconceptions that persist.
What the Future Holds
The water treatment industry will continue to develop ways to address contamination while making progress in the areas of sustainability and overall environmental impact. An excellent example is what’s happening with R.O. systems.
This equipment greatly diminishes contaminants in drinking water and it can result in consumers purchasing less bottled water, which reduces plastic waste. But, there’s still room for improvement in terms of the wastewater these systems produce.
In the United States, there are efforts underway to enhance R.O. systems by significantly reducing the amount of wastewater they produce. Such technology already exists in some international markets, and it’s time for us to implement it here as well.
The future of water treatment also holds opportunities for contractors who deal with water. By diversifying their business and gaining knowledge in water treatment, these professionals can take advantage of the chance to offer their customers technology that is in high demand. Plus, modern equipment has become much easier to install and configure while still requiring the expertise of a local specialist.
When plumbers, well drillers and other contractors connect with wholesalers and manufacturers who can provide adequate resources and training, the industry stands a better chance of educating the public on the truth about water treatment and how it can improve our way of life while also being environmentally responsible.
Serving as the director of sales and marketing at Water-Right for over eight years, Luke Java champions individual projects assisting with business planning, new product development and forecasting within the water-treatment industry. He is experienced in improving business performance by managing and growing company resources effectively. Learn more about Water-Right at www.water-right.com.