Pollution Prevention News Q2 2019

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2019 - Q2 Pollution Prevention News 

New Address, New Look

Greetings from the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District Pollution Prevention team, 

We're reaching you from a new email platform, which means this newsletter has a new look and format. For those of you used to seeing his newsletter delivered to your inbox from one of us individually, you will notice a change in sender, but the core of this newsletter remains the same. As always, If you would like to add a colleague or reply to this newsletter still feel free to reach any of us directly. 

Sincerely, the MMSD Pollution Prevention team, 

Kathy Lake, Emily Jones, Catherine Harris 

District-Wide Survey Initiative to Assess Community Attitudes

The district is reaching out to individuals in our service area, (including people in your community!) to learn more about their knowledge of local wastewater treatment, their attitudes and opinions.

Questions are designed to take a pulse on current understanding of wastewater topics, and can be asked again in the future to track change over time. Respondents will be asked opinions, behaviors, attitudes on topics such as water softeners, perception of pollution, non-flushables, and mercury.

Randomly selected, adult residents of your community will be asked to participate in a brief (about 15 minute) phone survey sometime within the next month. Phone calls will start going out sometime next week and will continue until 500 surveys have been completed. 

Final analyses are expected to be completed by the end of 2019. High-level results will be shared through this newsletter format.

Please refer any questions about this survey to: Catherine Harris, Pollution Prevention Specialist for the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District at: Catherineh@madsewer.org or 608-222-1201 ext. 115.

Settings Matter: Frequently asked Question about Softener Upgrade

Small-Sized Water Softeners


We get a lot of calls from people evaluating their purchasing options, asking "which one is best? which one should I buy?" In a sense, it's both an easy question and a difficult question to answer at the same time. Here is some guidance you can use if you get a similar question from residents.


The Easy Answer: Good news – some softeners, such as time-clock models or softeners more than 20 years old, are no-brainers to replace. Most softeners available today will likely be capable of a much higher efficiency than a 20-year-old model or a time-clock. The new softener should be capable of at least 4,000 grains for efficiency (per MMSD's Softening BMPs). Chances are that any new softener would be more efficient than softeners that old.

The Long Answer: Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to the question, “What softener should I buy?” Although some models are more efficient than others, even higher-efficiency softener can still use more salt than they need to if they are set up improperly. The SETTINGS play a huge role in how softeners function. Softener settings dictate how often the appliance regenerates, and how much salt it uses. If the settings were wrong, a new, high-efficiency softener might not be reaching its full potential. Settings Matter! 

What you can do: Ask your water quality professional to optimize the softener's settings for salt efficiency. A number of factors, like salt dose, grain capacity, gallon capacity and influent water hardness are all at play in proper setup. These factors can be complicated, so softener configuration is best left to someone with technical knowledge about water softeners. The district is working with local water softener dealers to develop tools that will help a wide variety of service providers like plumbers, inspectors, water quality technicians and HVAC technicians to help homeowners understand their softener and get it set up for optimal performance. Stay tuned for updates about this program.

More on water softeners - Chloride FAQ

Innovation Grants Available

Think you have the next great idea in salt reduction? Let us know! 

The district can support innovative ideas for large-scale chloride reduction through our Chloride Reduction Innovation Grant program. 

Project Home received an innovation grant for water softener improvements and was recently featured on Talk Wisconsin: 

Talk Wisconsin Screenshot