FAQs About Water Hardness Treatment Proposal

Has the board made the final decision regarding the implementation of a centralized softening system?

Currently a decision has not been made the board will not make a final decision until the December 13th board meeting. Information the board will consider includes the following:

  • Information gathered from the survey
  • The final recommendation from the Hardness Advisory Committee (12/5/2017)
  • Public Input received
  • Financial Analysis
  • Engineering technical data
    • Results from Pilot Study
    • Cost estimates 

 What total hardness, calcium hardness and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) levels are expected after treatment?

The district has established a total hardness goal of 115 mg/L.  Total hardness is a combination of the calcium and the magnesium concentrations in a water supply.  Scaling on plumbing, appliances and dishes is caused by excess calcium hardness in the water.  The Pellet Softening treatment process removes only the calcium hardness in the water. Magnesium does not contribute to scaling issues and provides health benefits.  The following table shows the calcium hardness, total hardness and TDS for the district’s current wells, the wells treated with the Pellet Softening process, and Denver Water.

Hardness levels

Do customers that have bought an in-home treatment system have to pay for the implementation of a centralized treatment process?

If the board decides to go forward with a centralized treatment process all customers will share in the cost to build and operate the system.

How will customers benefit from a centralized treatment system?

Benefits include:

  • Less scaling on piping, appliances and glassware
  • Less energy use
  • Longer appliance life (dishwasher & hot water heater)
  • Less operating costs and maintenance on in-home treatment systems
  • Potentially improved taste
  • Possible reduction or elimination of purchasing bottled water
  • Environmentally sustainable
  • Less detergent/soap used, improved laundry results

How will the Pellet Softening System change sodium levels in the water?

If a centralized pellet softening treatment process is implemented, the sodium levels will be similar to that of an in-home softening system. However, the district is evaluating different operating parameters in the pellet softening process that will lower the sodium levels in the treated water.

Will there be an impact to lawn/landscaping by applying softened water?

Based on Irrigation Water Quality Criteria from Colorado State University lawn and landscaping will not be affected by the softened water.

At the November District's Board of Directors meeting, a question was asked about the effect of soft water on household appliances.

The Board of Directors has set a hardness level goal of 115mg/L after softening treatment.  A drinking water is considered moderately hard if it has a hardness level between 60 mg/L and 120 mg/L.  If the Board of Directors decides to proceed with centralized softening treatment, the drinking water produced would be on the upper end of moderately hard.  At this hardness level, the negative effects of hard water on home appliances is greatly reduced while maintaining a sufficient level of hardness to avoid the negative effects of soft water.


Customers have asked about the potential of providing rebates versus centralized treatment.

As a special district we aren't able to provide a rebate to individual customers Furthermore it was determined in the Hardness Advisory Committee process that rebates weren’t equitable or sustainable. Not all district customers would benefit equally and the increase of in-home water softening will likely have a negative impact on the waste water treatment plant’s ability to meet future discharge permits.

Some customers believe the district’s water and sewer rates are already too high and question why additional increases are needed to implement centralized softening.

The district’s water and sewer rates are established to cover operating expenses, capital costs to maintain the system, debt service, and contractual obligations. We currently do not anticipate that this project will increase sewer rates. The following table, provided by Denver Water, shows that the district’s current water rates are fairly competitive with other Metro area water providers.

Water Rates Metro Area

The following table shows the district's annual water and wastewater rates compared to the surrounding Denver Metro area rates provided by a 2016 comparison study done by Raftelis Financial Consultants:

Water Wastewater Rates Raftelis

 If the District doesn’t implement the softening treatment process it is currently anticipated that we will need to increase our water rates by 3% for the next three years.  If the Board does decide to implement the softening process, additional increases, above the normal inflationary increases, will be necessary to pay for the capital and operating costs associated with the softening process.  By 2020 it is anticipated that an average residential customer would be paying approximately $12 per month more, than normal inflationary increases, if the softening process is added. Realizing that this is a significant increase above and beyond the normal inflationary increases, the HAC and the board will factor this information into their recommendation and decision making process.


Any further questions or comments can be sent to 2018budgetcomments@sacwsd.org prior to December 5, 2017. All comments and questions will be referred to the Hardness Advisory Committee and the district board of directors for consideration. The Hardness Advisory Committee will be hosting 2 public meetings to receive input on the potential implementation of a centralized treatment process. The first public meeting will be Tuesday November 28th at the Commerce City Rec Center, 6060 Parkway Drive, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The second public meeting will be Wednesday November 29th at Second Creek Elementary School, 9950 Laredo Drive, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.