Reclamation awards funding for desalination research

June 22, 2020
A collective $5.8M has been awarded to 22 laboratory and pilot-scale desalination projects.

WASHINGTON -- The Bureau of Reclamation awarded $5.8 million to 22 laboratory and pilot-scale desalination research projects to enable broader deployment of desalination and recycled water technologies.

"Desalination is a tool for communities to find new sources of water to meet their needs today and into the future," said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. "We are investing in desalination research across the U.S. to make it more affordable and energy efficient, giving communities access to reliable and drought-resistant water supplies."

The Desalination and Water Purification Research Program (DWPR) works with Reclamation researchers and partners to develop more innovative, cost-effective, and technologically efficient ways to desalinate water. The goal of the DWPR is to increase water supplies by reducing cost, energy consumption and environmental impacts of treating impaired and otherwise unusable waters. The Department of the Interior is delivering funding to researchers as they take an idea from the lab to a real-world demonstration, which yields products that serve the water treatment community. Reclamation is interested in research where the benefits are widespread and where research has a national significance.

The $5.8 million in federal funding was matched by $9.3 million in non-federal cost-share for certain projects.

Funded projects include:

The City of Westminster in Maryland will receive $347,500 to develop a pilot project for treatment techniques as it considers potable water reuse by treating the effluent from its existing wastewater treatment process and augmenting the Cranberry Reservoir. This will be the first potable reuse project in the State of Maryland.

Lehigh University in Pennsylvania will receive $225,719 toward energy efficient municipal and brackish wastewater recovery. They have validated for the first time a hybrid ion exchange desalination process that does not require any membrane and is energy efficient. They will test wastewater from the Allentown Wastewater Treatment Plant to validate the energy superiority of the process when compared to reverse osmosis.

The University of California in Irvine will receive $250,000 to develop a real time sensor for pathogen detection in water reuse. Developing real-time sensors to verify pathogen removal could permit utilities to avoid expensive redundancies in the treatment process required to protect humans from exposure to bacteria and virus removal during the water treatment process.

 A description of all the selected projects is available at