UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
I am from Texas and I'm doing a project over the pros of desalination for school. I was wondering if you could give me any insight to the advantages of desalination and is desalination going to be used a lot more in the USA. What are the cost and resources? In your opinion, will desalination be are main source of fresh water in 20-30 years. Any information is greatly appreciate.
Answer 1:

Water is one of our most basic and important natural resources. In fact, I would say that it is the most important! Oil and metals give us a higher quality of life, but we could (and did) live without them for thousands of years.

Imagine a line running through the middle of North Dakota through the middle of Texas. (Almost) everywhere west of that line uses more water every year than nature can provide. This means that they have to import water from other places or pump out groundwater faster than it can refill. Southern California has been importing water from Eastern and Northern California for 100 years already! The Eastern USA also pumps groundwater, but there they get enough rain to replenish the natural water supply as they pump the water out.

Desalination is a very important process. We are literally running out of water in the Western USA. Unless we build huge water pipelines from Northern Canada (which has been proposed!), we need to find a new source of water, and the ocean is an obvious candidate. The problem is price. Desalination is not cheap. Groundwater is much cheaper. Desalination won’t replace groundwater until groundwater becomes more expensive (which is happening). I don’t know how quickly this transition will occur though. In places like Los Angeles, it will probably happen faster than in places like Phoenix, because Los Angeles is on the coast, so there isn’t a large transportation cost. Robert Holder


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 © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use