I have heard it said that our most precious and dwindling resource is fresh water. But let’s not put the environmentalists to work on that one, PLEASE. They ALWAYS get it wrong. Here is my sad-but-true story about the fight to save fresh water.
About 2 years ago we renovated our kitchen. Part of the job was a new dishwasher. We had a 20 year old model that did a great job of cleaning, but it was ugly and noisy, so we bought a new Bosch, a brand that we had used before and our past experience with that brand was very positive. But the new one—it just did not do a good job: water spots on the glasses, dirt left on the plates and utensils. After about a year of cajoling the vendor, we finally had an “expert” come in to check it out. The diagnosis? Hard water. But, we asked, why did the ugly, noisy, obsolete 20 year old dishwasher do a good job.
He answered that older dishwashers used 13-15 gallons of water, but the newer ones, in the interest of SAVING WATER, only use about 4 gallons. Well, it seems if you use more water, the hardness (calcium and magnesium salts) gets washed away, but if you use less, the hardness does not get washed away. Furthermore, the hardness build up in the circulation of the newer models, eventually restricting the flow of water so that the problem gets progressively worse. If the water is soft, as in our previous home, NO PROBLEM. But, if the water is hard, as it is in most of the U.S., you have to get a water softener!
So, we installed a water softener, to the tune of $1850.00, and that’s cheap. Here is the catch: every third night or so, sometimes more, the water softener has to regenerate, a process that CONSUMES MORE THAN 25 GALLONS OF WATER.
For the sake of this discussion, I will overlook the cost of municipal water, which I have to pay for. Lets just focus on the enviromental aspect:
Let’s say we run our dishwasher once a day. That means we save 10 gallons of water per day compared with the old fashioned model. If we regenerate the softener every 3 days (that’s the bare minimum) thats 25 gallons every three days (also the bare minimum).
So, every 9 days we save 90 gallons with the dishwasher and spend 75 gallons (minimum) with the water softener. That is a best case scenario. The reality is, the softener has to be regenerated more often that every 3 days and uses more than 25 gallons per cycle.
Hardly seems like much of a boon to the water supply. It was a boon to my plumber, and to Blake Water Systems, who made the softener.
Do the geniuses, i.e., Congress, who make environmental regulations ever bother to think these things through?