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The Hollister City Council this week finalized an ordinance that will prohibit the installation of water softeners that produce high-saline wastewater, following the groundwater basin protection rules enforced by state and regional water quality control boards.

“The city is currently undertaking all reasonable and practical efforts to have its wastewater discharge comply with the Central Coast Water Board’s requirements,” utility engineer Danny Hillstock said in a report to the council on Sept. 8. “Prohibiting the installation of new (self-regenerating water softeners) is one of the few available means of achieving compliance with wastewater discharge limitations imposed” by the the water board. He noted that the new regulations do not require the removal and replacement of installed and operational water softener systems.

“This is not a ban on water softeners,” Hillstock told the council. 

City Manager William Avera said the city for “15 or 20 years” has been approving tentative housing development maps with a prohibition on salt-loading water softeners. The new ordinance will affect current homeowners only if they need to replace their current softener. 

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said the city has invested millions of dollars in its water treatment plan for the purpose of reducing the salt content in the water supply. “We can’t use our ponds for the water to percolate because the salt content is too high,” he said. “The purpose of the new treatment plant is to provide water that is softer without all the salt treatments.”

City officials encouraged the public to contact the Water Resources Association of San Benito County for information on available rebates for the replacement of pre-1999 water softeners. Rebates range from $150 to $300. Click here for details.