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Desalination

One way to create new water resources is to reclaim water located in brackish aquifers or the ocean by way of desalination. The technology is available, but costly. Table 4.1 summarizes the costs of desalination for various sources. Over 500 desalination plants, mostly located in California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona, produce approximately 12 percent of the worldwide output of desalinated water (CCC, 1993).


Table 4.1: The typical costs of desalination, 1992 dollars (CCC, 1993)
Desalination Source Capital Cost ($) Product Cost ($/ac.ft)
Seawater 20,300,000 1,300
Brackish groundwater 7,000,000-10,000,000 440--500
Municipal wastewater (excludes cost of pretreatment and distribution) 6,400,000 540


Since farmers currently pay only about $70 per acre-foot of water, the high cost of desalination makes it unlikely that agriculture could subsist by using this technology. However, in California desalination has proven useful in providing water during short-term emergency shortages.

Beyond the issue of cost, desalination has a number of other problems:


next up previous contents
Next: Dams and Reservoirs Up: Water Sources: Increasing Quantity Previous: Water Sources: Increasing Quantity   Contents
Andy Wingo 2001-12-10