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Southern Nevada Water Authority

Water Softeners

Because our main water supply comes from the mineral-laden Colorado River, Southern Nevada's water is very hard. Removing the calcium and magnesium softens the water, but is not a necessity to protect your health. Some people prefer softened water for bathing, cleaning and washing clothes.

Softener Processes

Ion Exchange

These systems use sodium (or potassium) ions to coat an exchange medium in the softener. As hard water passes through the unit, the water "trades" its calcium and magnesium for the sodium or potassium.

Water Conditioners or "Salt-Free" Water Softeners

In the last several years, as concerns have grown over the impact of salt from water softeners on the environment and on our health, there has been an increasing interest in water treatment systems that are labeled as "no-salt" or "saltless" water softeners.

Researchers in the water community are in agreement that this "salt-free" label is a misnomer. By definition, a water softener removes hard minerals (calcium and magnesium) and replaces them with soft minerals (sodium or potassium). Salt-free systems "condition" the water, but do not soften it.

These systems are not recognized by the American Water Works Association or the Water Quality Association, and there remains considerable debate within the scientific community about their effectiveness.


Retail prices for home water softeners may range from $400 to several thousand dollars, depending upon the size and type of unit. The cost of salt to replenish the brine solution is approximately $5 to $7, depending on the form purchased.

Water Softening Systems
Advantages Disadvantages Alternatives
Improved "feel" of water on the skin when bathing Potential health risks from sodium intake Bath salts
Cleaner, softer clothes Harm to houseplants due to elevated salt content Laundry detergents that include water softening agents
Longer life of appliances Overload or reduced effectiveness of septic systems Lime- or mineral-dissolving household cleaners
Reduction of water spots and deposits   Dishwasher rinse aids


Video: Water Quality - Safe Drinking Water Act


Your tap water meets federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards. Play

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