DUBAI, UAE, Nov. 9, 2009 -- Speaking at the IDA World Congress on Desalination and Water Reuse, Tom Pankratz, a director of the International Desalination Association and editor of Water Desalination Report published by Global Water Intelligence, noted efforts by the industry to address issues surrounding environmental concerns.
"With global leaders in desalination and water reuse gathered together at the IDA World Congress, this is the time and place to emphasize the industry's continued focus on environmental responsibility," said Pankratz. "We have done much to mitigate potential environmental effects, but we must be particularly diligent as desalination continues to grow, utilizing technological advances, implementing best practices and continuing to exchange information so that we move forward in the most environmentally responsible way."
Pankratz noted that large-scale seawater desalination projects are now being developed in locations where they never had been previously considered such as , Europe, and the . Meanwhile, plants in the Middle East are growing ever larger in size. These factors present different sets of challenges.
"The process of mitigating environmental impacts begins with siting of the desalination plant. The desalination process itself must also be considered. No two locations or plants are exactly alike, so most new projects require several years of study, modeling, and pilot testing before the design and construction can move forward.
"Protection of marine life is, of course, a key concern. New intake and outfall alternatives are available and plans should be evaluated by groups of specialists that include marine biologists and toxicologists, hydrogeologists and oceanographers. Monitoring programs are another important step in environmental responsibility. In addition, the industry has developed several options that can be employed to reduce the impact of concentrate discharge, and there are new technologies that offer the promise of further reductions," he said.
Pankratz pointed out that the desalination industry has also done much to decrease energy consumption and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "In the last 15 years, energy requirements have been reduced by up to 50 percent as a result of technological improvements. In addition, numerous research projects are under way that promise to further reduce energy requirements, including projects that creatively couple desalination plants with wind, solar or wave energy sources to provide the required energy input," he said.
The Kwinana plant in Perth, is an example of environmentally responsible desalination. Perth's first large-scale seawater desalination plant, this facility was commissioned in February 2007. Despite being constructed on a fast track schedule, the project is a showcase for almost every environmental mitigation measure currently considered state-of-the-art. Extensive environmental studies preceded construction, and continuous, real-time monitoring since startup has demonstrated the plant's ability to operate without adversely impacting the environment.
The Technical Program at the IDA World Congress includes several sessions devoted to the topic of environmental considerations. In addition, the International Desalination Association (IDA) is organizing an Environmental Task Force that will examine the world's best practices and address some of the unique issues facing desalination issues in the GCC countries with an objective of ensuring the sustainability of this important resource. Pankratz noted the steps that the industry
The International Desalination Association (www.idadesal.org) is a non-profit association of over 2,200 members in 60 countries. The membership is comprised of scientists, end-users, engineers, consultants and researchers from governments, corporations and academia. IDA is associated with the United Nations as part of a growing international network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
About Global Water Intelligence
Global Water Intelligence (www.globalwaterintel.com) is the leading source of market information on the water industry. GWI produces in-depth reports on the international water sector as well as a monthly magazine and the weekly Water Desalination Report. In addition, GWI has created DesalData.com, a powerful database that brings together all of GWI's desalination-related assets into a single database platform.