Drinking water from the sea

Obtaining freshwater from seawater can represent a solution for many countries that are struggling with a chronic scarcity of drinking water, such as Saudi Arabia and Australia. The problem of this technology is its cost, especially in terms of energy consumption, but also as regards it impact on the environment.

In Australia, after six years of drought, the city of Melbourne has decided to invest in the world’s largest desalination, which is scheduled to come online in 2011. However the WWF fears that the salt extracted from the water may damage the ecosystem, if dispersed into the environment. Furthermore according to certain experts, the problem of water scarcity could be solved if inhabitants simply used water more wisely, modifying their habits by reducing their daily water use.

Also in the news recently is another project to build a desalination plant in Saudi Arabia. The peculiarity of this plant lies in the fact that it will be solar-powered and will use state-of-the-art energy saving technology. This should solve the problem of operating costs and environmental impact.

However the fact remains that the water generated by such plants, although suitable for domestic consumption, is still too costly for agricultural use and definitely beyond the means of the poorest countries, where most of the population have no access to sources of drinking water: the most precious resource of all.