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Commentary

Cities turn to desalination for water security, but at what cost?

12 Feb 2019
Description

Removing salts and other impurities from water is really difficult. For thousands of years people, including Aristotle, tried to make fresh water from sea water. In the 21st century, advances in desalination technology mean water authorities in Australia and worldwide can supply bountiful fresh water at the flick of a switch.

Achieving water security using desalination is now a priority for the majority of Australia’s capital cities, all but one of which are on the coast. Using the abundance of sea water as a source, this approach seeks to “climate proof” our cities’ water supplies.

It’s hard to believe now that as recently as 2004 all Australian capital city water authorities relied on surface water storage dams or groundwater for drinking water supplies. Since Perth’s first desalination plant was completed in 2006, Australian capital cities have embraced massive seawater desalination “water factories” as a way to increase water security.

Perth and Adelaide have relied most on desalination to date. Canberra, Hobart and Darwin are the only capitals without desalination.

Read the full article on The Conversation.

This is the first of two articles looking at the increasing reliance of Australian cities on desalination to supply drinking water, with less emphasis on alternatives such as recycling and demand management. The second article can be found here on APO.

Publication Details
Language: 
English
License Type: 
CC BY-ND
Published year only: 
2019
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