When water wells, reservoirs and aquifers begin to run dry, every option for finding fresh water suddenly seems appealing – including expensive options like desalination.
glass of water with ocean in background
But Heather Cooley, the Water Program Director for the non-profit Pacific Institute, says it takes tremendous amounts of electricity to make ocean water drinkable.

COOLEY: “And as we get increasingly serious about reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, that does raise questions about the appropriateness of seawater desalination and about the opportunities for less energy-intensive supply or efficiency options.”

Cooley agrees saltwater desalination is a legitimate strategy for communities that have exhausted all other options, but she says in many cases there are less costly alternatives with fewer environmental impacts.
Desalination appropriate for some, but less energy-intensive options also may be available. Click To Tweet
COOLEY: “We also have opportunities for treating and reusing wastewater, for increasing stormwater capture, even looking at opportunities for brackish water desalination. So we have a lot of options still available. Many of these options tend to be less expensive than seawater desalination and have fewer social and environmental impacts.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
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More Resources
Key Issues for Seawater Desalination in California
For Drinking Water in Drought, California Looks Warily to Sea
Nation’s Largest Ocean Desalination Plant Goes Up Near San Diego; Future of the California Coast?

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