June 28, 2014
Desalination is catching on all over the world. It is believed to be a sustainable way to retrieve freshwater but it is not. People have overlooked the flaws of this system because it seems like such a simple solution to the water crisis we are facing.What the people are not aware of is that the process of desalination can be harmful to the environment, waste energy,and cause people to keep overusing their water resources.

Desalination is the process of removing salt from ocean water. There are three ways to desalinate,reverse osmosis which uses a membrane to remove the salt, multistage flash which uses distillation-based plants, and multi-effect distillation which also uses distillation-based plants. The most common is reverse osmosis (Rajavi,“Water Desalination”). “Reverse osmosis desalination allows water to travel through a synthetic membrane under high pressure, rejecting 99.9 percent of the salt in seawater.(Maxon,“ Is Desalination the Answer?”)” Although this seems like the best solution and the obvious choice for coastal cities, it is harmful to the nearby ecosystems.

The plants built for desalination have a negative impact on the nearby communities. The pollutants breathed out by the plants can harm the wildlife, the air and workers or citizens living by the plants(Maxon,“ Is Desalination the Answer?”). Another impact of this process is the fact that all the salt filtered out is dumped back into the ocean and brackish water treated contaminates soil, rivers and aquifers(Rajavi, “Water Desalination”) . Not only does it have these harmful effects on the Earth, but It also costs a lot of money and energy.

Desalination is giving the governments of many countries a big bill to pay. A study appraised that the cost of desalination per meter cubed is about 1.04, 0.95 and 0.82 USD for MSF, MED and RO assuming a fuel cost of 1.5 USD/GJ (Rajavi, “Water Desalination”). Not only does it cost a lot to desalinate water, but it wastes energy. Seventy-Five percent of desalination costs goes towards energy use(Rajavi,“Water Desalination”). This means that it would cost less,use less energy,and eliminate harmful effects on the Earth to just have water imported from other places (Surfrider, “The Cycle of Insanity”).

The process of desalination is harmful and expensive,not only to environment but to the people. If we took the time to learn about using our resources wisely, no matter where you live, we can increase our freshwater supply in an eco-friendly way.

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