We all know that too much salt in our diets can lead to high blood pressure, but did you know that high salinity can also harm the environment? Excess salt in the environment can lower crop yields and harm fish and other aquatic species. It can also increase the cost of drinking water and wastewater treatment.
Woodland's potable water is pumped from a system of groundwater wells located throughout the City. It comes from rainwater that seeps down through the soil and is filtered naturally by sand and gravel as it passes through the soil to the aquifer. As water travels through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals, which remain in the water. The result is water with a high mineral content, commonly referred to as hard water.
Hard water is safe to drink (PDF) but it leaves mineral deposits on plumbing fixtures, cars, and fences and can decrease the life expectancy of household appliances such as water heaters. It also requires the use of more soap when bathing or doing laundry. For these reasons, many Woodland residents use water softeners in their homes and businesses. Unfortunately, the widespread use of water softeners has a significant drawback - water softeners use a process that increases the salt content of the water, so after the softened water is used by residents and businesses and discharged as sewage, its salt levels are almost double those of the original potable water. Additional salts are added to wastewater from human wastes, garbage disposals, cleaning chemicals, soaps and detergents.
Where the Treated Water Goes
Woodland's treated wastewater is discharged to Tule Canal, a part of the Yolo Bypass. From Tule Canal, the water flows to the Sacramento River and eventually to the Delta. In order to minimize negative impacts of increased salt levels on these important waterways, in our discharge permit (PDF), the State of California requires the City to reduce the amount of salt it discharges to the environment.
As a long-term solution to this problem, the City of Woodland and the City of Davis are in the process of developing a joint water supply project that will reduce the use of mineral-laden groundwater. The proposed project will provide a reliable water supply to meet existing and future needs, improve drinking water quality, and improve the quality of our wastewater effluent to meet anticipated regulatory standards including those for salinity. Find more information on the water supply project on the Woodland - Davis Clean Water Agency website.