LISLE, ILL. — A new study conducted through Virginia Polytechnic Institute will examine the effects water softeners might have on septic tanks, the Water Quality Association announced. The investigation is being funded by the Water Quality Research Foundation, which also announced it is seeking funding for the project and other projects. WQA said it expects the study to be completed in summer 2012.

Dr. John Novak of Virginia Tech is heading up the research. Novak has earned awards and recognition for more than 30 years for his studies on wastewater treatment and other projects.

The goals are to find out whether various water softener operation patterns might have a negative effect on septic tank performance, and if so, to develop operating guidelines to minimize any problems.

Studies have shown that in activated sludge systems, an imbalance of the cation ratio in wastewater can lead to poor flocculation. The imbalance is typically caused by excessive sodium and can lead to poor settling, which might ultimately clog outlet filters. Water softeners operated primarily for removal of calcium and magnesium produce a discharge that has a cation ratio that has been alleged to impact septic tank performance.

The septic study is expected to cost $95,000. WQRF, a not-for-profit foundation, is seeking donors for this project and other initiatives. Additional information on donations is available at WQRF@wqa.org or by calling WQA at 630/505-0160.

WQA is a not-for-profit association that provides public information about water treatment issues and also trains and certifies professionals to better serve consumers. WQA has more than 2,500 members internationally. WQA provides Gold Seal certification for products that remove a variety of contaminants. These products are tested according to independently developed standards of the American National Standards Institute.

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