Water Desalination Findings and Recommendations

Water and waste water treatment are now well established technologies that have arguably made greater contributions to human health than most medical breatkthroughs. Making water, while technically possible, was historically mainly restricted to ships, islands and particular applications where very pure water was required. As the process relied on boiling water, energy use was significant and the costs of large scale water manufacturing prohibitive. The costs could be reduced by combining water production with other processes producing heat, with the most common pairing being combined power generation and brackish or seawater desalination. Even with some technical innovations such as using multiple chambers and lowering pressure so water boiled at temperatures as low as 45° C, large scale thermal water desalination has been almost entirely restricted to the wealthy, energy rich and water poor countries surrounding the Arabian Gulf.

Large scale desalination's move beyond the Arabian Gulf is occuring not only due to increased water shortages in other wealthy areas but also to a revolution in membrane technologies which has dramatically lowered the cost of desalination. But the same revolution is transforming water decontamination generally and providing a boost to water recycling. Essentially, water can now be manufactured from a variety of feedstocks from wastewater to seawater using the same basic technologies and processes. Manifestations of this technical convergence are rapidly beginning to
mount, from industry giants such as Veolia Water trading on their general water competence and the US municipal desalination lobby - the US Desalination Coalition - transforming itself recently into the New Water Supply Coalition to “seek
congressional support for the development of new water supply projects nationwide including water recycling, seawater and brackish groundwater desalination and
groundwater reclamation projects”.