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Unintended consequences of going green

2009/03/27

So dishwasher detergent containing phosphates have been banned in Spokane County, Washington. Sounds great, right? Well, not really when a lot of the residents just hop the Idaho border to stockpile Cascade. The reason – the eco-friendly, low phosphate options don’t work very well with hard water. The Washington Lake Protection Association suggests installing water softeners so the eco-friendly detergents work better, but that just raises another issue – increased salinity from the waste water from the water softeners. Water softeners are already being banned in some parts of the country.

So which is worse: high phosphate loads or high salinity? Bearing in mind that the phosphate, more than nitrogen, might actually drive the algae blooms we’re trying to prevent. 

Can we come up with a third option?

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