Desalination is the process of removing salts from water. Desalting water is a must for humans who don’t have ready access to fresh water. 2.5 percent of the world’s water is fresh water. That means that 97.5 percent is salt water, this is mainly found in the ocean. Most of the fresh water in the world exists in glaciers, ice caps, groundwater, and swamps. The 2.5 percent of fresh water is enough to supply over 7 billion people in the world. But what about those in countries, such as Africa, who do not have unlimited access to fresh water. And what happens when there’s a drought in places that are used to having more than enough fresh water?
California is a perfect example of this. The drought in California reached its 4 year mark this year. In order to conserve water, California had to lower its water consumption by 35 percent. This meant selling of cattle and letting vegetation die.
The 2.5 percent of fresh water is no longer enough since humans do not have access to all 2.5 percent of it, especially when extreme heat is causing droughts throughout different parts of the world. However, there is plenty of salt water. In order for humans to drink the water from the oceans, they must first be desalinated. Removing salt from the water seems like a great idea when you know it will help people experiencing droughts, but it isn’t perfect. Much like everything else, there are risks.
The benefits to desalination is that it works! It is a process that has been done for thousands of years, even during Aristotle’s time in 320 B.C. Desalination is something that will not run out of resource because it would use ocean water, and we have plenty of that. By creating fresh water, it would preserve the fresh water supply that we already have.
Then, there are the risks. Desalination does not come cheap. Desalination plants use fossil fuels that are used to create electricity in order to produce fresh water. What’s more is that desalination plants are expensive to build! A desalination project in Carlsbad, California will cost 1 billion dollars. It will be the largest desalination plant and provide 50 million gallons of water a day to San Diego County. This is only 7 percent of the water the city needs.
There is another risk to desalination. The desalination process pushes salt water through filters to produce fresh water, but what happens to the salt in those waters? They do not just disappear. The result of this process is brine. Brine is so rich in salt that it would pollute the environment, thereby wiping out all vegetation and wildlife it comes in contact with.
All in all, desalination is a simple and proven solution to droughts. Most people experiencing droughts would have no choice, but try to create fresh water in any way they can. However, it would be costly and the consequences have great potential to make the situation worse than it already is.
Article courtesy of 50 Plus Report Editorial Team.