Several municipalities in the Grand River Watershed rely on groundwater for their drinking water supply. The Region of Waterloo takes roughly 75 percent of its water from the ground; the City of Guelph relies primarily on groundwater for its supply. Groundwater is generally hard because it has absorbed minerals from the earth it flows through. The minerals contributing to hardness (mainly calcium and magnesium) are healthy to drink but create scale build-up in pipes, appliances, water heaters and on dishes. As a result, residents of areas with hard water often use water softeners to remove the hardness of water.
Water hardness levels in Waterloo Region and the City of Guelph vary from 148 mg/L (8.7 grains per U.S. gallon) to 958 mg/L (56 grains per gallon).
There are a few telltale signs that your tap water is hard. Tap water that contains a higher concentration of minerals will leave soap scum behind on sinks and bath tubs. Minerals in the water form scale in washing machines, dishwashers, coffee makers, kettles, humidifiers, water heaters and plumbing fixtures. Without proper maintenance, the efficiency of appliances, such as tanked water heaters, will decrease over time due to mineral or scale accumulation. Homeowners renting appliances are often required to maintain water softeners as part of their rental agreement.
You should always find out the hardness level of your water before installing and setting up a water softener. For residents of Guelph and Waterloo Region, you can check out our hardness guide to find your community’s water hardness.
Find my water hardness
The main reasons you may want to purchase a water softener are:
- to lower energy consumption by reducing scale build-up in water heaters
- to reduce the amount of soap needed to create a lather
- to maintain plumbing fixture appearance and function
- to enjoy the feel of softened water when washing