Turning Saltwater From Earth and Sea Into Water Fit to Drink

In the United States there are plans to convert the ocean seawater into drinking water. In San Antonio they could make those plans happen in Texas’s country side. The constant drought in the state brought the idea and plans for desalination. Desalination is a word that is brought up in many water discussions around Texas. The construction of many desalination plants around Texas have started for 10 more than the already 44 plants that lie in Texas already. The largest plant is in El Paso, which can supply 27.5 million gallons of water a day, but it never operates at full capacity because of the enormous bill for the energy costs to keep at full capacity. Desalination is not cheap, the production of desalinated water costs 2.1 times more than fresh ground water and 70 percent more than surface water, according to El Paso Water Utilities (nytimes.com). As a result, last year only 4 percent of El Paso’s water supply was by the plant.

The down side to this desalination process is the disposal of the concentrated salts in a way that avoids contaminating fresh water and also that it is demanding of lots of energy. Which is something that the environmentalist argue and they say that Texas should first focus on conservation and the reuse of waste water.

In Florida there is the largest seawater desalination plant in the country, it is just slightly bigger than El Paso’s plant. There are suggestions for a seawater plant in Texas. But the desalination of seawater cost twice as much as the desalination of groundwater because seawater is saltier, the energy cost is also the day-to-day operating cost that are 60 to 70 percent of the energy.

Since costs are so high the less and less the funds come in for desalination projects. Representatives at the Texas Desalination Association are requesting for money  desperately but no one is really responding or listening to them at all.

Is this good or bad? Should we stop using up our fresh water and find new ways for drinking water, even though the costs are high? Well right now the response is to stop funding those plants in Texas, even though Texas has been having massive droughts as always and those plants were their alternatives. Is the cost worth it?

Ashley Tagliero

AP Enviromental


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