Seawater Desalination plant in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, flickr.com/photos/octal
It’s high time for Seawater Desalination to benefit the entire world on many levels. Desalination Plants need to be employed as a way of life everywhere as soon as possible. Although it is encouraging to see desalination plants popping up here and there, they need to be the norm wherever there are freshwater shortages.
If it is not feasible to construct a land-based desalination plant, then we need to work on bringing a portable system to the area in the form of a desalinating ship or a floating plant, such as the pictured floating desalination unit “Hydriada”, powered by wind and solar energy in Irakleia, Greece, the first of its kind. (vito31-ccbysa3)
We really need many more desalination ships and barges, such as that of Zureli Fully Assembled Sea Going Desalination Plant, to be sent to areas either hit hard with drought or just not located near freshwater, to begin with. The water can then be transported to drought-stricken areas via trucks or pipelines. Wouldn’t it be great to repurpose pipelines previously pumping oil to be lined and able to pump water instead?
Innovative companies such as Environor are building offshore desalination plants to efficiently deliver clean and fresh water. Such systems are advantageous due to being able to fill the demand for water in a more flexible manner, thus answering the demand for hard-to-reach areas and emergency situations. Along with building new desalination ships from scratch. we can also retrofit existing ships as described in Earth Magazine’s article: ‘Dry dock wet tap – Old ships become floating desalination plants’
We can either draw seawater into desalination plants and ships or pump it inland through pipelines to be treated in plants in other cities and rural areas. It is ridiculous that we don’t have enough water inland, and have increasingly far too much in the oceans and rivers, and it is time to turn this around.
We also need to divert the water when faced with rising water levels into reservoirs and canals built to move seawater and accommodate floodwater. A series of man-made saltwater canals could lead to desalination plants downstream.
It would be a very good thing to remove water from the ocean when facing rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar regions. Much damage has already been witnessed on a drastic scale, particularly for coastal regions. What better time to increase efforts to pull water from the ocean, when so many in the world need freshwater desperately. As the freshwater icebergs are breaking up and melting before us, we need to harvest them once they have broken off and floated far enough away so as not to disturb the remaining ice sheets. Even though they were freshwater, once contaminated by seawater, they will require the desalinating process. We need to do more to harvest this freshwater resource for our survival, and in doing so we will be lessening the negative effects of too much fresh water going into the ocean. Capturing the freshwater before it goes into the ocean will lessen the destruction of shorelines and reduce flooding everywhere; it will slow down the growing pressure on the ocean floor, and with it increasing earthquakes and changes; since freshwater evaporates more readily than saltwater, superstorms heavenly laden with moisture can be reduced in number and severity; since freshwater is having an adverse effect on marine life by changing the salt content of the sea, this too could be another benefit.
Another main point to be considered when assessing the vast benefits of desalinized water is that the process not only removes salt but other impurities, parasites, bacteria, etc. Filtering and treating water should be another growing focus for every country, whether it has adequate freshwater or not.
It would be great to see pipelines pumping water across the land, directly to desalination plants inland, ready to receive and process the saltwater. We have got to have huge reservoirs of freshwater, well-distributed throughout the lands, not only for people, animals, and agriculture, but to help with the fighting of wildfires which are devasting the land, wildlife, food sources, and property, helping warm up the land, increasing air pollution, and feeding global warming. It is imperative to have freshwater reservoirs, for fighting forest fires, hydrate land as a preventative measure, and even supply water to drought-stricken crops.
Communities and countries need to unite in bringing desalinized water to the growing number of millions who are going without potable water right now. Let’s help this industry grow by talking about it, sharing information, supporting the technology on any level, asking governments and corporations to help bring about setting up desalination ships and plants everywhere, and ensuring the water can be moved inland to irrigate and fill the needs of the area.
For a growing list of resources, suppliers, technology, and developments in all things related to seawater desalination for the world, visit Managing Earth’s Seawater Desalination Page.