General Information

Salinity

Salinity is the presence of dissolved mineral salts in water. Elevated salinity in surface water and groundwater is an increasing problem affecting California’s Central Valley. While some salt is beneficial, too much salt can degrade water quality, jeopardize agricultural production and increase the cost of our water supplies. Stakeholders throughout the Central Valley are working together to ensure that excess salts do not contaminate our precious water and soil, but we need your help.

Typical salts include sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, carbonate and sulfate. Unfortunately, the majority of salts in wastewater are not removed during treatment at the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, which discharges to the Sacramento River. You can help reduce salinity in our precious water resources by adopting a few simple practices.

How to Reduce Salinity

Household activities—such as cleaning, food preparation and water softening—can add salt to wastewater. Follow the tips below to help reduce the level of salt in your wastewater.

  • Consider not using a water softener. If a water softener is necessary, choose a high efficiency water softener, exchange tank softener or non-salt water softener.
  • Choose liquid over powder laundry and dishwasher detergents, as powdered soaps contain more salt.
  • Use the minimum amount needed of household cleaning products and personal care products.
  • Choose dryer sheets over liquid fabric softeners.
  • Minimize the amount of water used for mopping, or better yet, use mopping pads.
  • Put food waste in the trash instead of the garbage disposal, as food waste is high in salt.
  • Reduce salt in your diet. Salt you eat or use in cooking finds its way back into the environment.

Industrial and commercial businesses also contribute to the amount of salt in wastewater. Industrial processes and activities—including cleaning, water conditioning and cooling tower and boiler operations—can all increase salinity in wastewater. Businesses can reduce salinity in their wastewater by implementing some of the following practices.

  • Use the smallest amount of raw materials needed.
  • Substitute organic-based raw materials and chemicals for mineral-based ones.
  • Modify equipment, practices or processes, such as elimination of salt-based water softeners, maximization of reverse osmosis efficiency or minimization of pH adjustments, where practical.
  • Redirect waste by recycling.

Central Valley Salinity Collaborative Efforts

Regional San participates in and provides funding for the Central Valley Salinity Coalition, a non-profit coalition of public agencies, businesses, associations and other members working together to better manage salts in the Central Valley of California. Regional San also participates in the Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS), which is a collaborative stakeholder-driven and managed program to develop sustainable salinity and nitrate management planning for the Central Valley. For more information on sources of salts in the Central Valley and the process being used to develop a workable plan to address salinity, please visit www.cvsalinity.org.

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