Research Area: Desalination

Our Objective

WE&RF research on desalination is conducted to determine the effectiveness, practicality, and benefits of desalination in today’s world. 

The main goals of WE&RF's desalination program are to further the knowledge and understanding of desalination in regards to treatment strategies, regulatory concerns, cost implications, concentrate management, and environmental effects and provide effective tools and information regarding the benefits of desalination as part of a diverse water portfolio.

Latest News

WE&RF Reuse & Desalination Newseltter - January 2017
The latest issue of Reuse & Desalination news features a newly published WE&RF report on direct potable reuse, a subscriber's new desalination plant, and opportunities to get involved in reuse research.
Carlsbad’s Seawater Desalination Plant Marks One-year Anniversary
In its first year of operations, the nation’s largest and most technologically advanced seawater desalination plant produced enough high-quality, drought-proof water from the Pacific Ocean to meet approximately 10 percent of the region’s demand.
Shoring Up Supplies - San Antonio Magazine
San Antonio Water System’s (SAWS) brackish groundwater desalination plant is now removing salt from 12 million gallons of water per day.
An Unconventional Approach To Dairy Wastewater Treatment
This Water Online article explores two different processes for treating wastewater containing dairy.
Bureau of Reclamation to Launch Desalination Challenge
The Bureau of Reclamation’s More Water—Less Concentrate: Grand Challenge, which kicks off this fall, will award $1 million or more in funding through a series of competitions spanning several years. The challenge seeks to develop innovative solutions and technologies that will minimize concentrate volumes and maximize water recovery.
New Desalination Tech Could Help Quench Global Thirst
Designed with better, more energy-efficient materials, next-generation desalination plants may offer a way to meet the world’s growing need for freshwater.

Products & Tools

Database of Permitting Practices for Seawater Desalination Concentrate (DESAL-13-07)
Documents seawater reverse osmosis discharge regulatory issues and provides a critical overview of facility discharge-related information required for permitting desalination projects.
Performance and Cost Review of Existing Desalination Plants which use Conventional and Membrane Pretreatment Processes Prior to RO (Ongoing)
This project will provide utilities with information on key criteria that can assist during the planning phase for membrane desalination plants, related to the evaluation of different pre-treatment processes and provide a process selection decision matrix which optimizes capital and operating costs against performance and regulatory requirements.
Case Study of the City of Carlsbad and Surrounding Areas’ Experience with Integrating Desalinated Seawater Supply in Municipal Distribution Systems (Ongoing)
This project will provide independent review of the impacts from introducing desalinated seawater into an existing distribution system, including but not limited to quantifying source water quality changes, water quality effects (e.g. corrosion, disinfectant residual, etc.), and public acceptance.
Database of Permitting Practices for Seawater Concentrate Disposal (in Publication)
The project will identify the discharge information permitting agencies need and the decision-making process they go through to permit alternative discharge methods in order to help desalination project proponents focus and expedite their permitting efforts.
Emerging Energy-Reducing Technologies for Desalination Applications (in Publication)
The project will independently test the most promising desalination processes or equipment to verify manufacturer claims of reduced energy consumption in order to accelerate industry adaptation of recently developed commercial products or processes by minimizing the time to widespread application.