Sandia To Study Ways Ocean, Wastewater Can Be Desalinized
Researchers from the National Nuclear Security Administration's Sandia National Laboratories, together with fellow members of the Joint Water Reuse & Desalination Task Force, in coming months will be studying the best ways to desalinize -- and make potable -- ocean water, subsurface brines and wastewater.
The California Department of Water Resources recently granted Sandia and its Task Force partners $1 million for the study. The Task Force -- which comprises Sandia, the WaterReuse Foundation, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the American Water Works Association Research Foundation -- matched the award for a total of $2 million. Each member has to contribute $250,000 to the project.
"Over the next six months we will decide on the type of research we will do in the California effort," said Pat Brady, who heads the project for Sandia.
Among possibilities to be studied will be alternatives to disposing of waste -- extremely salty water -- after the desalination process. The waste could be dumped into the ocean, put in ponds for evaporation or injected into the subsurface, the researchers said.
Brady notes that California is growing rapidly and may have limited choices about where to obtain future water supplies.
"They may have to come from the ocean or municipal wastewater," he said.
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), who secured more than $4 million for desalination efforts for Sandia as chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriation Subcommittee, says this type of research could be the "long term solution to our nation's and New Mexico's water problems."
"This award for research is an excellent step in the right direction," he said. "California shares many of our state's water problems, so technology developed under this award will be of benefit to everyone."
Sandia National Laboratories: http://www.sandia.gov
This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.