What’s Wrong with Desalination?

What’s Wrong with Desalination?

The Hudson River is an important estuary that contributes to New York’s economy, heritage, recreation, environment, and aesthetic beauty. The health of the Hudson River is vital to the livelihood of the many communities on both sides of the river. For many years, environmental groups have sought to protect, preserve, and restore the Hudson. Haverstraw Bay is in the lower region of the Hudson River and is designated a significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat because of its significant value as a nursery for numerous fish and other aquatic species.

United Water, a subsidiary of Suez Environment, is proposing a desalination plant at Haverstraw Bay in Rockland County, NY. The proposal consists of an intake facility, an intake pumping station, a water treatment plant that will use reverse osmosis technology, piping for the water transport, and potential upgrades to the Joint Regional Sewage Treatment Plant (JRSTP) to be built along the Hudson River.
Desalination plants should not be proposed for these ecological significant areas. Maintaining Haverstraw Bay is a crucial part in the overall process of preserving the Hudson River Estuary.

What is Desalination?
Desalination is a process to remove salt and minerals from salt water to produce drinkable water. There are several different methods to desalinate water. Reverse osmosis is the most common process, used in 96% of desalination plants in the United States. During reverse osmosis, salt water is pumped along a porous cylindrical membrane at high pressure, which prevents the passage of small particles, salts, and other chemicals, but allows the desalinated water to pass through for human consumption. It takes two to three gallons of salt water to make one gallon of fresh water, depending on the saline content of the brackish Hudson River water. A higher salt concentration in the water body makes the desalination process less efficient. Desalinating water produces several types of waste products: The reverse osmosis process creates a solid byproduct, comprised of everything filtered from the clarified water. This can include high concentrations of salts, minerals, chemicals, or any other pollutants including heavy metals and PCBs. The residual solid waste is typically collected and landfilled. The liquid waste containing concentrated salt brine is returned back to the source water.

This text from Citizens Campaign for the Environment website: Hudson River Desalination page.

History of Desalination

Treatment Plant – Water Technology

Desalination Is Not The Answer

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