When the recently bowed to pressure from the state to reduce the amount of salt going into the city's sewage system, the City Council to pay homeowners to remove their salt-discharging water softeners. Also, the Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of these water-softening units after an amnesty period, expiring July 7, 2012.
So, the question of what other water-softening or water-conditioning products are best to replace the old type with has to be on many residents' minds.
Basically, the original problem is Dixon's very hard water, due to its water coming from wells. Because water migrates through the ground, it picks up some dissolved minerals (especially calcium and magnesium) on its way to wells. Although drinking hard water apparently isn't bad for our health, it does cause other problems. When used for washing, hard water reduces the ability of soaps and detergents to do their jobs. It can leave mineral deposits on glasses in dishwashers. When hard water passes through pipes and fixtures such as faucets, shower heads, and water heaters it can build up tough scale and mineral deposits.
There are three broad categories of alternative products. First, there are units which act similarly to the old salt-discharging units by removing calcium and magnesium from water. Second, there are units which filter out certain water contaminants, but not calcium and magnesium, leaving cleaner water. Third, there are water conditioners, which don't remove anything from the water but change the water-borne minerals in such a way that they don't leave mineral deposits.
Here are some products that local plumbers and companies are offering. They're on a list of companies on the City of Dixon's Web site, but are not endorsed by the city.
NuvoH20 - This is a small water conditioning device using citric acid, other chemicals and chelation to prevent mineral deposits. The device needs to be replaced periodically. The company is headquartered in Utah.
Rayne Water and Culligan - These two companies' units still use the salt-based water softening method, but differ in that the companies exchange the units every 14 or 28 days and do the salt-flushing at their own facilities. However, the units still add a low level of salt to a home's water supply and wastewater as sodium replaces calcium and magnesium during daily use. They are permissible under Dixon's rules.
Environmental Aqua - I was unable to receive product info from this Vacaville company.
Life Source - With an office in Rancho Cordova, this company offers a whole-house water filtration system that removes such additives as chlorine and other contaminants. However, the filter doesn't soften water because it doesn't remove calcium and magnesium.
Plumbing Doctor - With a business in Dixon, this company offers Hydrocare, a water conditioning unit that uses radio-frequency signals to reduce or eliminate mineral deposits and scale. In my opinion, this is an unproven technology. They also offer Scale-Stop from Next Filtration Technologies, a water conditioning system that turns dissolved "hard" minerals into crystals that don't leave deposits. This water is said to be good for drinking.
Puronics - A vendor of this product (Rivers West Water System) recently opened an office in Dixon at 2600 Plaza Court, suite A. The Clarius model whole house water filtration product is offered, similar to that sold by Life Source, above. It doesn't remove hard-water minerals from water. The Puronics company itself is located in Livermore.
Same Day Service Plumbing - Located in the country between Dixon and Winters, it offers the Pro Series whole house water filtration system and separate water conditioning anti-scale system (which seems similar to Scale-Stop offered by Plumbing MD, above) which work in tandem. The filtration system's filter or filters and the anti-scale system's treated beads both have to be replaced approximately every 10 years.
Other companies offer magnetic water conditioning systems. The non-mineral-depositing effect provided by many water-conditioning products is not long-lasting. If treated water remains static in a home's pipes or water heater for a given period of time, it can lose its beneficial qualities.
Contact information for these companies is provided at the City of Dixon's Web site. On the home page select Water softeners: New Ordinance and Exchange Information. On that next page, select Water Softeners and Fair Info.