Many countries are facing major economic and political problems due to water shortages. However, a combination of new technologies and more intelligent water use can virtually eliminate the problem while boosting the economy. This is the conclusion reached by the McIlvaine Company in Air/Gas/Water/Fluid Treatment and Control: World Market.
Israel is the shining example of what can be done. Not only was water in short supply a decade ago, but the available supply has shrunk further due to droughts. However, Israel now has a water surplus and a booming economy. The reason is it has embraced the latest desalination technologies and has adopted a policy of water reuse. Eighty percent of the water now used in Israeli cities is desalinated seawater. All municipal wastewater is reused. Furthermore, Israel has led the world in drip irrigation.
The Amiad, Arkal and other filter technologies developed in Israel were originally to filter water which has to move through tiny drip tubes and must be free of contamination. So Israel is now the headquarters for a number of international filtration companies. Amiad has developed into a $100 million corporation.
Desalination is decreasing in cost while the true cost of water from fresh sources continues to rise. San Diego is installing a large desalination system rather than rely on imported water. Water shortages in the Southwest U.S. are causing municipalities to rethink pricing of water. In fact, in some of the hardest hit communities, water prices are actually lower than in some Eastern cities where water is plentiful. If cities reset prices to levels based on demand, the cost of desalination will be comparatively attractive in many areas of the U.S.
Treated municipal wastewater should replace fresh water at power plants. Studies show that there are power plants in the proximity of nearly all large municipal wastewater treatment plants. There are chemical and physical treatment methods to make treated wastewater acceptable for all power plant requirements.
There are many technology advances which make desalination more cost effective. Larger membrane modules with lower pressure drop are now available. The recovery of reverse osmosis pump energy is another. Pre filters caused problems at Tampa Bay. However, there are reliable inexpensive pre filters which are available. Improvements in treatment chemicals keep the membrane surfaces clean. Improved pumps and valves reduce maintenance expense. Cost effective corrosion resistant materials are also now available.