Is Seawater Desalination the Solution for the World’s Water Problems?
A study from McGill University, estimates the average Canadian consumes about 329L of water a day, the equivalent of more than 600 standard water bottles (500 ml). Think of your daily routine. In the morning you get up, you have a shower. Flush the toilet. Fill the water for your coffee or tea. Run the dishwasher. At lunchtime, you might boil some pasta. Later you might do some laundry. Before bedtime, you may might run a warm bath or put the kettle on for some hot tea. Sleep and repeat.
As the population keeps growing, water consumption increases, and it becomes more difficult to access the blue gold in a sustainable way. In the long run, this can create water stress, a phenomenon that occurs when the water demand is higher than its availability. How can we prevent this problem and what solutions are available to us? In cities like Cape Town, South Africa, residents have been encouraged to follow a series of water-saving initiatives, from flushing the toilet when necessary to shower no longer than two minutes.
But this doesn’t completely solve the issue from repeating itself. Are there any other solutions available? In the past, desalination has been considered a possible option to solve the water crisis. If you think about it, 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water, and the oceans hold more than 95 % of all Earth water. Turning seawater into drinking water could help populations who face water stress and water scarcity to solve this problem. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
In today’s episode, Heather Cooley, Director of Research at the Pacific Institute, explains how desalination works, the impacts this can cause to the marine environment, and how unsustainable this practice can be.
For more information about seawater desalination, water stress and the work that the Pacific Institute does Click Here.