Desalination Plants Pros and Cons

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People and animals need to have fresh water to drink. With a world that is made up of 70% water, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, but unfortunately most of the water that we have is salt water, not fresh water. Around 20% of the world’s fresh water can be found in the Amazon basin alone and with drought conditions affecting many areas of the world, water supplies are running short. That’s why the pros and cons of installing desalination plants is being considered by many nations right now.

What Are the Pros of Desalination Plants

1. The method of desalinating water is proven and effective.
The reverse osmosis method of removing salt from ocean water has been proven an effective way to create fresh sources of drinking water that can deliver the needed health benefits that people require. When properly designed, these plants can then create water that is high quality and drinkable.

2. There is a massive amount of ocean water.
Even if all of the water came from desalination plants, the waters of the ocean would provide an almost inexhaustible supply. This means that even in times of drought, people would have access to the fresh water they need for life, for growing crops, and plenty of other needs.

3. It would preserve our current freshwater supply.
Because the freshwater supply on our planet is rather limited, it makes sense to preserve as much of it as we can. This would allow more resources to be utilized where conservation efforts are currently in place because there is a lack of water that is available right now.

What Are the Cons of Desalination Plants?

1. It can be a costly process.
For the average desalination plant right now, it takes 2 kilowatt hours of energy to produce 1 cubic meter of fresh water. Although that translates to a cost of under $2 on many power grids, the true cost of production comes from the expenditure of fossil fuels that are necessary to create that electricity.

2. They are expensive to build.
Desalination plants might operate at a reasonable price, but building them isn’t always feasible for a community or a nation. The cost is high enough that it has prevented development of this technology because many just can’t afford the initial price tag and there aren’t enough returns to justify the investment.

3. The resulting brine can have a dramatic environmental impact.
To create fresh water out of salt water, the salts in the water need to be removed. This process creates a brine that is so rich in salt that it can contaminate any environment where it may be placed. It is even strong enough to kill vegetation and wildlife should they come into contact with it. There is usually anti-scaling agents and chlorine removing chemicals in this brine as well.

By weighing the pros and cons of desalination plants, we can each come together to decide if the costs are worth the gains that may be seen. We all need fresh water to survive. These plants could make that happen for us.