The Debate Over Drinkable Seawater

20,000 global facilities produce a mere 1% of the world’s drinkable water at potentially significant environmental cost. But in areas where potable water sources are unsustainable for growing populations, what’s the breakdown of impact vs. urgency?
 
Most facilities—especially in the Middle East—rely on thermal desalination which burns oil or gas and dumps thousands of gallons of briny waste into oceans. As a recent study shows, the discharge reduces ocean oxygen levels and kills sea life.
 
Desalination processes will likely continue, given scarce alternatives as the global water supply runs out. Using solar or wind power may lessen impact, as could recycling brine by irrigating salt-tolerant plants.
 
Bloomberg Businessweek

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