Desalination: A Timely Response for Water Scarcity

How do you deal with drought?

Despite efforts of environmental advocates all over the world, climate change is continuing to show signs that man has caused the environment too much destruction. Climate change is what we attribute to the natural calamities that have been hitting many parts of the world in recent years – excessive flooding caused by strong storms and hurricanes, disastrous earthquakes, and drought.

Desalination Plant: Solution for Water Scarce Places

California has its own battle with the environment. The towns in California are besieged by drought and are frantically in search of new sources of water. Plans are being drawn to convert salty ocean water into safe drinking water. And California seems to be prepping for high-tech desalination plants that can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, using tube headers made from corrosion-resistant Grade 2 Titanium sheet.

Converting Seawater Into Drinking Water

Construction of a $1 billion project designed to wring 50 million gallons of freshwater from the sea on a daily basis, is 25% complete. The project is located where the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, California, meets the spilling waters of the Pacific Ocean. The processed seawater is collected and poured into a water system that supplies over 3 million residents.

Costly And Energy Intensive

The process of desalination – forcing seawater to filter out salt and other impurities through reverse osmosis, became an essential and reliable water sourcing option in regions of the world where water is scarce. But while it is reliable, the process is energy intensive and costly. That makes it practical and viable only in places where energy is inexpensive – places like the Middle East which have a copious supply of oil.

Technology Plays Its Part

Fortunately, technological advances made in recent years in energy recovery systems and membrane materials have reduced the energy requirements for desalination in half. This has made the cost-limiting technology appealing in a state like California, fearful of entering the early stages of an unimaginable mega-drought.

According to the comptroller for the International Desalination Association, Randy Truby as told to NBC news, desalination may turn out to be a very affordable option for Southern California, especially in view of the drought being faced by the state. Not to mention the fact that the governor has cut off the water flow from north to south in the State Water Project.

The Downside

The Carlsbad Desalination Project, still under construction, is the country’s largest seawater salt-filtering facility in the Western Hemisphere. Projected to be completed in 2016, the $1 billion facility is expected to produce enough water that will fulfill the daily needs of 300,000 area residents – about 7% of the country’s water requirements. Even if it means being locked into a 30-year contract with the desalination plant’s developer – Poseidon Water, to buy desalted water nearly twice as expensive as the current rate for inverted water with an additional $5 to $7 per month added to ratepayer’s bills, which amounts to about a 10% increase.

 

Still a better option, right?