The process commonly known in the field as “water softening” really means any method by which dissolved heavy ions (Calcium, Magnesium, etc.) are removed from water. Quick, efficient, and low-energy water softening is especially necessary in various industrial situations— as pipes, plumbing, sewage and tanks can become contaminated and damaged with buildup by water that contains too much “hardness.” In such a situation, the industrial market is always looking for ever more efficient methods. The latest industrial water softeners take the form of giant tanks that can be attached to any water pipe, extracting a “hard” brine of Calcium and Magnesium and clarifying your water source; most of these products tend to use harmless salt as the ion with which the contaminating “hard” ions are exchanged.
If I were to extrapolate even further, here’s my prediction: the problem is only going to get worse as global warming continues to make fresh water resources more scarce and groundwater is tapped in greater quantities. We have seen this in more densely populated (and agricultural-powerhouse) states such as California. Wells are dug deeper and deeper, into lower and lower strata of the large aquifers. As the water comes from deeper sources, essentially we are reaching down to more ancient layers of rocks, densely packed magma of eons ago. The water won’t be any softer down there.
Impact on Glendo
But how does this relate to the small town of Glendo? It all comes back to the Glendo reservoir, one of the main sources of surface water reclamation for southeastern Wyoming. The water here might be less ionically rich than the groundwater but it all the same requires the removal/exchange of hard water ions for its low impact replacement: sodium. Every day new proposals are emerging for the best, most efficient way to clean this water so it is safe for industry and residents alike.