UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
We already know that there is a underground oil spill at the guadalupe dunes, and I heard that hospital waste washed up on the beaches. The question is Is the water safe to drink if they take the salt out of it? Does that process take out this other junk?
Question Date: 1999-01-25
Answer 1:

The process will take out both the salt and the hospital waste. Hospital waste is easy to take out just by passing the water through a screen. Taking out the salt is more difficult and needs large and expensive screens or membranes.

Answer 2:

I can understand your concern.Taking the salt out of sea water to make it drinkable would probably be only one of the steps. Big things like hospital waste would be screened out and the water would be purified to prevent diseases. I'm sure you have noticed that the beaches sometimes have to close due to disease organisms in the water, so you wouldn't want to drink it either. For more information on Santa Barbara's desalination plant, see
click on desalination or browse through it.
Their main page,
has general information on water in SB county. I don't know how they remove hydrocarbons (oil residue). You might contact your local water provider for information on that. Even without spills, we release a lot of oil into our water by not recycling oil in our cars.
Remember that only 1% of the world's water is fresh water, and only a fraction of that is drinkable, so we need to take care of it.

Thanks for asking.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use