How The United States Might Solve Water Crisis

How The United States Might Solve Water Crisis

The Energy Department has pledged to spend $100 million over the next five years to create a research and development hub on desalination. This process converts seawater and brackish inland water into freshwater.

It has been vital for the American communities, pushing the policymakers to rethink how residents get freshwater and consider technologies to help.

The investment is seen in the research field as a moonshot effort. It would jump start the ever-elusive energy-efficient process and cost effective to create a resource out of vast unusable deposits like the saltwater that covers two-thirds of the earth’s surface.

“The significance can’t be understated. Something like this has been a long time coming,” says Jonathan Brant, associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Wyoming.

“We’re faced with a real water crisis, and the main solution to that is going to be able to tap – in an environmentally sustainable and economically sustainable way – saline water sources.”

Currently desalination is costly and energy intensive; Australia and Israel are currently the world leaders in desalination. Israel utilized more than half of its water from desalination plants, 85% of its municipal water is reused. If we are looking at the U.S. less than 0.002% of the water consumed in the country is from desalination plant.

There are desalination plants in the U.S but the process used for desalination is expensive; Salt forms strong bonds with water, and the molecules are not easily separated. While freshwater has traditionally cost about 50 cents per cubic meter in an average U.S. market – and sometimes as little as 10 cents per cubic meter – desalinated water costs as much as $2 per cubic meter, and sometimes even more.

To help with new technologies the Energy Department has become the bridges between the biologist, engineers and scientist to close the gap. Creating a cooperation amongst everyone, adding government funding, it could yield breakthrough that would change how U.S. gets its water but also could be shared with the rest of the world.