The modern technology used to desalinate seawater into fresh water has been around since the nineteen-seventies. But high costs, energy use, abundant fresh water from other sources, and other environmental impacts have limited the number of desalination plants.

But now several states are taking a second look. In southern California, drought is only one reason.

Pankratz: “The existing water supplies that we’ve relied on are becoming polluted, and the quality is being degraded, which means that they require a higher level of treatment that costs more money.”

That’s Tom Pankratz, editor of the Water Desalination Report. He says the cost of transporting water from other areas is also increasing.

Pankratz: “It’s also projected that the cost of importing water from northern California, even if it remains available, the cost to pump it to southern California is increasing at a point that it’s now requiring as much, or almost as much energy – in some cases even more energy – than desalinating water in southern California.”

As the climate continues to warm and droughts become more common, Pankratz believes desalination will be one of several strategies communities will use to get the water they need.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Desalination Components to Reach $5 Billion in 2015
Will California De-salt the Pacific to Alleviate Its Drought?
Santa Barbara Working to Reactivate Mothballed Desalination Plant

John Wihbey

John Wihbey, a writer, educator, and researcher, is an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University and a correspondent for Boston Globe Ideas. Previously, he was an assistant director...