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What Is Salinity in Water?

Salinity is a word that is fairly common when discussing water quality, but you may not be familiar with what the term means or how it impacts your drinking water. Salinity is the concentration of dissolved salts in a body of water, typically expressed in parts per thousand. While table salt is sodium chloride (NaCl), salinity in drinking water accounts for all mineral salts, including magnesium, calcium, potassium and sulfate in addition to sodium and chloride.

While all drinking water supplies contain some level of salinity, homeowners and business owners add concentrated levels of salt to the water that they discharge, which in turn hurts the environment and future water supplies.

For example, salt-based water softeners, certain soaps, detergents, cleaning products, and shampoos increase the salinity of the water that flows from the drains in your home. Personal use increases the salinity of your water, which is very difficult to filter at most wastewater treatment plants. Often, the increased salinity is not effectively treated and simply is emitted into bodies of water along with the rest of the discharge.

Mineral salts cannot easily be removed from treated wastewater because the salt is dissolved by the time it arrives at the treatment plant. Agricultural and industrial activities also contribute to this steady increase in water salinity throughout the nation.

How Does Salinity Affect Us?

When salinity rises in wastewater it can permanently damage the ecosystems surrounding your community. Lake and river systems can breakdown over time, resulting in irreversible loss of wildlife and plant life.

Increased salinity can also result in additional costly systems being installed in your local wastewater treatment in order to provide potable water. These systems would drive up your water and sewage bills. Taking actions to reduce water salinity keeps costs down, prolongs the life of your local water infrastructure, and helps the planet.

How to Decrease Your Water Salinity

  • Switch from liquid fabric softener to dryer sheets, and use liquid detergents for laundry and for the dishwasher instead of powders. These are simple and affordable lifestyle changes.
  • Use cleaning products that are environmentally friendly and contain few mineral salts. Avoid cleaning products that contain chlorine, sodium, phosphates, or artificial colors and fragrances. Use less cleaning product when you clean – avoid spraying or pouring too much.
  • Switch from salt-based water softeners to water softener alternatives with salt free technology. This is the most important step, as salt-based water softeners significantly contribute to increased salinity in a body of water. Our water softener alternatives with salt free technology utilize no salt at all, and operate without the use of electricity. By neutralizing the scaling and slippery effects of mineral ions without adding in sodium ions our systems provide an eco-friendly solution that keeps salt out of your drinking water. The ongoing expenses of salt bags and maintenance also make salt-based water softeners a less viable option for your home.

With that said, there are those that have salty water naturally due to salt-water intrusion from the ocean, especially if you live along the coast. In that case, a RO system would be beneficial to filter out harmful contaminants and chemicals.

Take the necessary steps to reduce the amount of salt minerals being added to your wastewater, and test your drinking water to ensure nothing else is lurking inside it.