The effects and implications of the hardness of drinking water have been intensively discussed for some years. Preventive properties have been attributed to calcium and magnesium in connection with cardiovascular disease. More recently the discussion resumed in advance of the new WHO guidelines that will deal with desalination of drinking water obtained from brackish or salt water. The outcome of these discussions will impact on water supply companies that have decided to apply central softening for reasons of customer comfort. This paper describes the strategy adopted by Brabant Water in relation to water softening and customer satisfaction and the significance of the WHO guidelines.