Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Desalination: Option Or Distraction For A Thirsty World?

Date:
June 22, 2007
Source:
World Wildlife Fund
Summary:
Making drinking water out of sea water is a growing trend but a potential threat to the environment that could also exacerbate climate change, says the World Wildlife Fund in a global review of desalination plants worldwide. They found that some of the driest and thirstiest places are turning to desalination. These include regions where water problems affect large, populous areas -- Australia, the Middle East, Spain, the UK and US, with India and China following suit.

Making drinking water out of sea water is a growing trend but a potential threat to the environment that could also exacerbate climate change, says WWF in a global review of desalination plants worldwide.

The WWF review, Making water: Desalination – option or distraction for a thirsty world?, shows that some of the driest and thirstiest places are turning to desalination. These include regions where water problems affect large, populous areas — Australia, the Middle East, Spain, the UK and US, with India and China following suit.

“Desalinating the sea is an expensive, energy-intensive and greenhouse gas emitting way to get water,” says Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF’s Global Freshwater Programme.

“It may have a place in the world's future freshwater supplies but regions still have cheaper, better and complementary ways to supply water that are less risky to the environment.”

It is estimated that around 60 per cent of freshwater needs in the Arabian Gulf are met through desalination, and the Australian city of Perth may be looking to source one-third of its freshwater the same way. Spain is devoting an astonishing proportion of its desalinated water to agriculture — at 22 per cent the highest level in the world – as well as to holiday resorts in arid areas.

Impacts of desalination include brine build-up, increased greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of prized coastal areas and reduced emphasis on conservation of rivers and wetlands. Many of the areas of most intensive desalination activity also have a history of damaging natural water resources, particularly groundwater.

Managing water demand and assessing impacts of any large-scale engineering solution are needed early in order to avert irreversible damage to nature and the cost overruns, often paid by citizens over the long haul. Sustainable sources of water start with protecting natural assets such as rivers, floodplains and wetlands. These natural systems purify and provide water as well as protect against extreme or catastrophic events.

“Large desalination plants might rapidly become ‘the new dams’ and obscure the importance of real conservation of rivers and wetlands,” adds Pittock.

“As with any relatively new engineering such as large dams that grew up in the 50s, the negatives become known when it is too late or too expensive to fix. What we need most is a new attitude to water not unchecked expansion of water engineering.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by World Wildlife Fund. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

World Wildlife Fund. "Desalination: Option Or Distraction For A Thirsty World?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070621203448.htm>.
World Wildlife Fund. (2007, June 22). Desalination: Option Or Distraction For A Thirsty World?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070621203448.htm
World Wildlife Fund. "Desalination: Option Or Distraction For A Thirsty World?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070621203448.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wildfire Hits California's Angeles National Forest

Wildfire Hits California's Angeles National Forest

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 17, 2014) A wildfire sweeps across the Angeles National Forest prompting campers to quickly leave as officials began evacuating the area -- local media. Gavino Garay reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Symphony Performs at Southern Utah's Red Rocks

Symphony Performs at Southern Utah's Red Rocks

AP (Aug. 16, 2014) The Utah Symphony hopes to complement the beauty of Utah's soaring red rocks and canyons with free desert performances near Utah's national parks this weekend. (Aug. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins