Metroline Research Group
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Thursday, October 3 (4:15pm - 4:45pm)
(T-1961) A Tale of Seventeen Households - Field Testing of Alternatives to Ion Exchange Softeners
The Region of Waterloo and City of Guelph in Ontario, Canada are both communities that rely on groundwater for their drinking water supplies. Because of the minerals contained in groundwater, water customers in these municipalities receive very “hard water”. These minerals can cause scaling of water using fixtures and appliances, and are often attributed as posing an aesthetic difference in dishwashing and showering. More than 70% of households in these municipalities rely on water softeners to condition hard water, by using salt. These softeners waste 1.9 billion litres of backwash water and discharge 25,000 tonnes of salt in wastewater per year (Stantec Environmental Impact Study, 2016).
Since 2009, the municipalities have jointly funded local performance testing of cation exchange softening systems to better understand how they work and how much water and salt they consume. They also launched a joint web site, www.watersoftenerfacts.ca, to educate the public.
In 2014, the municipalities tested a new technology that treats hard water without needing backwash water and salt. This new technology, which employs template-assisted or nucleation-assisted crystallization (TAC/NAC), has shown promise as an alternative to cation exchange softening.
To get a better understanding of what actual users think about the NAC technology, Waterloo Region and City of Guelph launched a one-year field study with 17 households in late 2017. The partners hired Metroline Research Group Inc., a market research company, to conduct a water conditioner market study with residents to:
● Understand homeowner perceptions and attitudes towards NAC technology after using them for 12 months.
● Gather information about real-world performance of NAC units under normal conditions.
● Compare salt and water consumption with study homes before and after MIC units were installed.
● Evaluate and recommend policies, goals and tactics to achieve market transformation away from salt-based softeners to more environmentally friendly alternatives.
This presentation will provide attendees with the results of the year-long market research study, and details on next steps in policy development.