Water Shortages And Desalinisation Essay

1663 words - 7 pages

The Problem: Water Shortages

As the world continues to grow the need for fresh water continues to rising. The current demand for water is ever increasing. In the many places in the world clean drinking water is taken for granted. In other arid places in the world water is a scarce resource.
Fresh water sources around the world are being put under intense strains. Fossil water in aquifers are being over pumped. In many cases aquifers may need thousands of years to replenish their reserves. The Ogallala aquifers in the American Midwest is being over pumped at an unsustainable rate. Water from this aquifer is used for irrigation of crops, that provide food for millions. Also, ...view middle of the document...

Desalination is the process of removing salt from water. Over the world there are many desalinization plants. The output of these desalinization plants in 2011 produce around 66.5 million cubic meters a day, which three hundred million people depend on. {Henthorne} Since 2011 that number has grown.
Desalination happens in nature. Natural desalination happens in the water cycle by means of evaporation. The water cycle leads to replenishing our water sources, lakes, rivers, aquifers, excreta. So we actually get all of our fresh water from desalination in a roundabout way.
Two poplar means of manmade desalination are distillation and reverse osmoses. Distillation usually involves lowering the pressure and then boiling the water and collecting the condensation. Reverse osmosis is the process of forcing the salt water through a semi permeable membrane, which filters out the salt.
Distillation used to be most common method. Commercial technology was developed during World War II, as large armies moved all throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Russia. This technology for commercial reverse osmoses would not become a viable option until the 1970s.
Energy is the key component that limits desalination. The energy consumption that it takes to run desalinization is huge, compared to secondary treatment of non-salt water sources. The most efficient desalinization plants take up to 3 kWh/m3, where as energy consumption for treating waste water is only .1 kWh/m3. As a result only places in arid climate or places of surplus energy does a desalinization plant make practical sense.
When looking at the viability of a desalinization we need to take into account were the energy comes from. The energy from many desalination plants come from fossil fuel that pump CO2 into the atmosphere. The emissions of the power plants may be a hindering factor for construction of new desalinization plants. As of 2013, the President's Climate Action Plan stated its plan to set standards for existing and future power plants. The administration acknowledges the fact that future power plants were be more stringent than the existing plants.

Water Rights

In the United States there are two kinds of water rights, "prior appropriation" and "riparian rights" In the American West the water rights typically fall under prior appropriation water rights. Prior appropriation separate land rights from water rights. The water rights may be sold just like land, and not necessary attached to the land. Riparian rights apply to most other areas of the United States water rights and land rights cannot be separated.
When conflict arises for water because of scarcity there are several ways to gain fresh water rights. The first is to file a lawsuit and fight in court, this option is generally taken by private citizens. A second is to secure water rights through congress. There is also an option for states to enter an interstate compact, which is an legal...

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