Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sierra Club Releases Updated Report on Desalination

Lone Star Chapter

For More Information:
Tyson Broad 325-248-3137 (cell)
Ken Kramer 512-626-4204 (cell)

For Immediate Release (Thursday, November 14, 2013):

Sierra Club Releases Updated Report on Desalination

(Austin)-The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter today released an updated version of its popular report on desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater and surface water. Desalination: Is It Worth Its Salt?  is a basic primer on desalination written for the general public. The report explores the environmental, energy, and economic issues surrounding desalination and provides an overview of desalination activities in Texas. First released in 2008, the report has been updated to reflect the technological advancements and additional research in desalination over the last five years.

“Desalination is often viewed as a solution to many water supply problems and is often hailed as a ‘drought resistant’ supply, said author Tyson Broad, Research Associate with the Lone Star Chapter. “Certainly, the decreased cost of desalination technologies has made the process more economically attractive. Fully assessing the actual cost and benefits of desalination, however, requires that energy and environmental concerns be thoroughly addressed.”

The Sierra Club report identifies the disposal of brine resulting from the desalination process, entrainment of aquatic species in the desalination facility intakes, and the increased energy requirements of the desalination process as the biggest environmental concerns.

The report also examines the economic risks associated with desalination. “During the most recent drought in Australia, the country constructed five large-scale desalination facilities to meet demands,” said Broad.  “Today, however, four of these facilities are operating in stand-by mode and generating no revenue because the drought ended and less expensive surface supply sources again became available.”

“Desalination offers the potential for taking pressure off freshwater resources that are of vital importance to the environment,” said Ken Kramer, Lone Star Chapter Water Resources Chair. “However, the high costs associated with desalination emphasize the need to implement much less expensive water conservation and drought response strategies prior to investing heavily in desalination.  The Australian example is an important ‘cautionary tale’ about excessive reliance on expensive infrastructure to meet water needs which may be better and more cheaply addressed through management of water demands.”

A copy of the report is available for download at

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