Desalination will transform the Earth, very much for the better, in the next half century. Imagine making deserts bloom, providing clean water for everyone on the planet, replenishing aquifers, eliminating sinkholes and even droughts. And all from the limitless bounty of the sea.
As is so often the case, the chief obstacle is political, and it comes from the left. Desalination, at least for now, is energy intensive. Fusion will solve this someday. Gen 3 and 4 nuclear reactors — possibly the safest, cleanest energy source in human history — could solve it now, as could large-scale expansion of the gas-fired plants which Fracking enables. But the left stands firmly against all of the above, for specious reasons which amount to, ahem, a “war on science.”
Never mind. Practicality is trumping that. And as usual, the leader is Texas.
State to study desalination of Gulf water as viable option in face of drought
by Heather Alexander
May 5, 2014
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. It’s a phrase that means avlot to Texans with the Gulf of Mexico on our doorstep and severe drought conditions persisting across the state.
Sugar Land instituted voluntary water restrictions Wednesday in an attempt to conserve what water there is before the real heat of summer starts.
Statewide, it’s a grim situation that’s got lawmakers looking to the Gulf for the solution, and it’s not for the first time.
“Any option is a must,” state Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) told Kris-6.
Hunter has been appointed to head up a new committee to study water desalination set-up, with the hope of turning the salt water we are almost surrounded by into something we can drink.
Desalination is a process that does not require a water-into-wine type miracle; the technology is there. Using reverse osmosis, water is pushed through a special membrane which can remove many types of minerals and ions, including salt.
But it is expensive and could turn water prices closer to wine prices.
Desalinated sea water would run to $3-$6 per 1,000 gallons, according to the Texas desalination association. In some areas, customers now pay just 25 cents per thousand gallons.
The new committee will look at whether it is worth the state spending what could run to billions of dollars to build plants producing this pricey water.
Some think with current natural water levels declining and around 95 per cent of the state in drought, further desalination is a must.
“We have enjoyed extremely inexpensive water, or close to free water for a very long time,” said Kyle Frazier, executive director at the Texas desalination association. “Those days are going, especially in this state.”
Texas already has more than 40 desalination plants for brackish water, or inland salt water, which Texas also has plenty of. The Kay Bailey desalination plant in El Paso is the largest of its kind in the world.
The state holds 2.7 billion acre-feet of brackish groundwater, which is 150 times the amount of water Texans use each year, according to the state water board.
The committee will likely study how to expand desalination of brackish water as well as looking at the realistic potential of any sea water desalination plant.
“Digging a hole and praying for rain is not going to work,” said Frazier at the desalination association.
Others, though, say that it may still be too early to pump massive amounts of public money into desalinating water. They point to other drought ridden areas like Australia and California where rain did return to save the day, leaving huge investments on desalination plants redundant.
Houston Chronicle reporter Matthew Tresaugue contributed to this report.