The New York TImes reports today on how Israel is mitigating a shortage of much-needed rain by desalinating seawater. California, reeling from its driest winter in history, has a long coast line and the same opportunity as Israel.
Of course, the problem with desalination is that it requires a lot of energy. According to the article, ten percent of Israel’s total electrical consumption is used for desalination efforts. As California gets plenty of sun, this power could be generated by solar energy collection. However, and as described in an earlier article on this blog, solar energy generation requires a lot of cooling, which is generally addressed with water.
While corrosive, seawater can be used for cooling, but the warm water that is returned to the sea does add to global warming. Clearly, the entire process is a balancing act. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. As the need for water grows, so will development of new technology to meet this demand. California can only raise prices and restrict water usage to a certain point. Homeowners grow tired of looking at grey lawns, and farmers and industry do not want to keep raising prices. Maybe it is time desalination technology receives another look.
There are more ways for California to save water:
prohibit sale and installation of garbage disposers. They waste lots of water, are hard on plumbing systems, and are largely unnecessary.
develop and encourage the use of grey water systems. Speed up the process of including this technology in building codes
Prohibit seafaring vessels, including those operated by the military, from dumping waste overboard. Garbage and sewage needs to be offloaded ashore or onto other vessels for proper treatment and disposal.