Pacific Institute

Desalination, with a grain of salt — a California perspective

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Courtesy of Pacific Institute

Long considered the Holy Grail of water supply, desalination offersthe potential of an unlimited source of fresh water purified from thevast oceans of salt water that surround us. The public, politicians,and water managers continue to hope that cost-effective and environmentallysafe ocean desalination will come to the rescue of water-shortregions. While seawater desalination plants are already vital for economicdevelopment in many arid and water-short areas of the world, manyplants are overly expensive, inaccurately promoted, poorly designed,inappropriately sited, and ultimately useless. To avoid new, expensiveerrors, policymakers and the public need to take a careful look at theadvantages and disadvantages of desalination and develop clear guidanceon how to evaluate and judge proposals for new facilities.

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