Bill AB2270 expected to go to governor’s desk soon.

The California state legislature will almost certainly pass a sweeping water softener ban law very soon, observers say. The bill, AB 2270, passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee by party line vote July 7. It is expected to pass the whole Senate as early as next week and move to GovernorArnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.

The State Water Resources Control Board told the legislature that bans will not cost state government significant amounts of money. However, the law could cost homeowners untold sums.

The bill gives water boards the power to decide whether towns can ban softeners. If a town chooses to announce a ban, policing power to enforce it would be necessary.

California created water softener efficiency standards in 1978, when researchers in the water treatment industry began looking at the problem of salinity. The state set up guidelines to make sure that before a community bans water softeners, independent scientific studies show such a measure will significantly improve local ground conditions.

The current proposal to ban water softeners would overturn this approach, says the Water Quality Association, which is opposed to this bill.

“Those in the industry and homeowners need to make sure the governor knows how damaging this law would be,” saidPeter Censky, WQA executive director. “This drastic bill would do very little good for the environment and cause a lot of problems for homeowners throughout California.”

Censky says studies have shown that the vast majority of salinity in the ground in California ― close to 90 percent ― comes from natural processes, mainly farming techniques and other sources. Water softeners contribute only slightly more than one-tenth of the salt.