Desalination has a waste problem

The waste product from desalination is growing too large to ignore, argues a paper from a United Nations think tank that provides the first estimate of global brine production from desalination.

Producing fresh water in the driest parts of the world by removing the salt from sea water is resulting in a deluge of brine, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.

The amount of brine generated by the world’s nearly 16,000 desalination plants is 50 percent larger than earlier assumptions, according to researchers at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health.

Just four countries on the Arabian Peninsula — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar — account for 32 percent of global desalinated water but 55 percent of global brine production. And brine is a problem that is growing alongside the rising demand for reliable freshwater. The world’s desalination capacity is expected to nearly double in the decade ending in 2020.

Read more from Brett Walton with Circle of Blue here.