WORLDWIDE FRESH WATER SHORTAGE
Inadequate clean water is now beyond the crisis stage in many parts of the world fueled by population growth, drought, pollution and soil contamination. Policy makers and water experts throughout the world are desperately searching for newer, safer, cleaner and more affordable ways to sustainably produce fresh water.
Desalination presents an obvious answer to the global water shortage. However, all existing forms of desalination technology pose two major problems: high cost and environmental damage from disposing of brine. Most often, desalination plants discharge brine into the world’s oceans where it is killing marine life and causing catastrophic environmental damage.
Current Desalination Technologies
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF TOXIC BRINE & OPPOSITION TO DESALINATION PLANTS
Most current disposal methods simply reintroduce this toxic brine back into the environment polluting rivers, oceans and wells. Public opposition, political pressure and mounting governmental regulation over the devastating environmental impacts of toxic brine discharge is the driving force blocking the expansion of desalination in California, the United States and around the world.
In the United States, new EPA restrictions, such as ending One Pass Cooling Systems for power and desalination plants, have placed existing plants in jeopardy. In California alone, new regulations on brine discharge along the coasts in California have stalled all future desalination projects, jeopardizing existing desalination plant operations simply because of the limits of current technology to eliminate brine. Projects, such as the Poseidon Plant Carlsbad, CA plant now must be reconfigured both for ocean water intake and for brine disposal or face closure as early as 2020.
ENVIRONMENTAL COST OF TOXIC BRINE: COASTAL DEAD ZONES
Because brine contains twice the salt concentration of sea water and does not contain oxygen, discharging it into the ocean causes it to sink and spread along the ocean floor, where it can have a devastating impact on benthic ecosystems, including the suffocation of fish eggs and other organisms that inhabit this region. The delicate ecosystems on the ocean floor can be suffocated by the negative environmental impact of brine, resulting in a potentially disastrous environment for marine life and what is known as “kill zones” or “dead zones.”
The negative environmental impacts of reverse osmosis and other desalination technologies have been tolerated throughout the world because of a complete lack of an environmentally friendly alternative.