Why can't we use ocean water to help with water shortages

@momiecat (997)
United States
June 17, 2009 12:51pm CST
Whether it would be for human consumption or just to water plants or flush the toilet, why can't we use the abundant ocean water to fulfill our needs in this regard? I know they say it is expensive to "distill" the water but it just seems to me that our advanced societies should be able to come up with a creative way to use the ocean water. I think the water will always be replenishing itself, so we would not have to worry about the oceans drying up. I just don't see why there cannot be something done to use this abundant natural resource.
2 people like this
13 responses
@Rtlsnk316 (1197)
• Mexico
17 Jun 09
It can be used, the only thing is the process of filtration is very expensive, therefore maybe just some countries can afford to do that. A friend of mine works at the State's Water Comision and we live in a city near the Ocean, we've asked him that before and that's what he explained us.
1 person likes this
@momiecat (997)
• United States
17 Jun 09
Yeah, I guessed it would be very expensive to filtrate the water but in this day and age with so many advances in science and other areas, I just do not understand why someone can't invent something to do this cheaper. As the first poster said, it is good to do conserving measures first but I think it would also be great to be able to use this endless natural resource.
@Rtlsnk316 (1197)
• Mexico
18 Jun 09
I completely agree with the water conservation criteria that we should have, but then again, that might work only if we influence upcoming generations of our population. In my opinion it'll be awfully hard to try and make grown ups have good conscience of what's going on, because supposedly they know what's going on, water is running out, the planet is little by little being damaged, but they simply don't care. For that matter a faster solution would be anything, anything at all involving current technology, science, and whatever is on hand to run an alternate plan, meaning to use ocean water. ... now, how about enforcing some sort of pennalty for any type of misuse of nature's resources? And I mean even at a smaller scale: people wasting water by using a hose to wash their car, the street, leaking pipes ... I don't know, just anything reasonable.
@pyarebhai (200)
• India
18 Jun 09
IN the days, thoughout our plant (earth), there are places where there is adquate water for drinking and other purposes. where as there certain places on earth, some have drinking water scarecity. In such sutuations the water can be conserved and part of the water may be used for toilets and other crude purposes, but for consumption purpose the water can not be / may not be used, as it involve much finance labour etc. the idea can be got verified for its fecibility in near future where advance technologies may make the procees with cheaper rates. the idea is good,implementation needs to be considered in the light of expenses etc.
@momiecat (997)
• United States
18 Jun 09
New technologies must be developed. We must learn how to use these natural resources to help the planet. I do realize that some countries have an easier time with their water supply than others and if an easier method could be developed to use the ocean water then all countries could enjoy the benefits of the it.
@reckon21 (3487)
• Philippines
18 Jun 09
I agree with you. Time come when water shortage is already unbearable that will be the time our government will find ways how to convert sea water to make it usable for humans. Why don't they start doing the research now so that the earlier the better,right?
@momiecat (997)
• United States
18 Jun 09
Yes, I do think we should find that genius now and hopefully something can be done about this situation in the near future, not generations from now. I do believe that it is important to use our natural resources especially when there is so much abundance as in seawater. Here in California we have not had that much rain over the last winter and through the spring. We have to look to other ways of getting water when these conditions exist year after year.
• United States
17 Jun 09
Well, for one, it's not only expensive to purify ocean water, it means you would have to transport it long distances to reach inland areas, meaning you either need to build massive pipelines or you need to have fleets of tanker trucks that can deliver the water to places that need it. That's not necessarily a problem in developed countries like the US, but it is a problem in third world places where the local government can't afford to build the pipelines or where there aren't effective roads to use for truck transport. And frankly, there's not much of a need for it. Instead of using ocean water, we'd do better to simply reduce our water consumption. Install low-flow toilets and shower heads. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth. Use a grey-water collection system to take water from your shower and sink and use it to water your garden. For that matter, plant only those plants that thrive in your local environment and don't need tons of water. If everyone in America followed those simple tips, we'd have a lot less problems with water shortages.
1 person likes this
@momiecat (997)
• United States
17 Jun 09
Great response. You sound like a man who knows what you are talking about. I still think it is too bad that we cannot make good use of the oceans as there is so much water there, that it will be a never-ending supply for a long long time. You make some good suggestions though and I think all Americans should follow your guidelines.
@jwfarrimond (4475)
20 Jun 09
Actually the earths climatic system is just one huge desalination plant. Water evaporates from the sea and falls as fresh water - all we have to do is to intercept as much of it as possible before it all runs back into the sea again We can help by introducing better ways of using water and conserving what supplies we have. The latest climatic projections are predicting that the south - east of England, which already suffers from periodic droughts and water shortages, will become even dryer over the next 40 or 50 years or so. So it's imperative that effective conservation measures ar taken now.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60007)
• United States
17 Jun 09
but the salt in the ocean water would kill the plants (and us) unless it was desalinated And it is expensive/hard to do for most places. There is a passive desalination method, but its expensive to set up - so, unless you want to be burning fossil fuels to evaporate the water to harvest the steam, you really have a hard time getting the water from the ocean.
@momiecat (997)
• United States
18 Jun 09
What you describe are conventional methods of desalinazation. I am thinking there must be a way to do this that is cheaper and more efficient. True, we cannot use the ocean water as it is with all its salt but there should be a way to desalinate more effectively. I appreciate your comments.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60007)
• United States
18 Jun 09
hun, they've been working on that for centuries
20 Jun 09
There is a way of doing it which though is not cheap to set up, it is cheap to run. That is a reverse osmosis plant. This consists of a permeable barrier which allows the water to pass through but not the salts. It works because the pressure is higher on the "salt" side than it is on the "pure" side. It's necessary to pump the salt water into the plant of course, but the power to do that can come from wind pumps. I think that most of the Gulf States supply themselves with fresh water using desalination plants and in many other places around the world as well.
1 person likes this
@katsmeow1213 (28707)
• United States
17 Jun 09
Without purifying the used water, we will still eventually use it all up and dry up even the oceans. What my city is doing now, and many other cities are probably already doing, is purifying our used water and recycling it. So some of the water that comes from my tap is water that once went down that drain. Yes, it sounds pretty gross, but I think it's an absolutely wonderful idea! This way our water is constantly being recycled and soon there will be no worry about our natural resource.
@momiecat (997)
• United States
17 Jun 09
Well, see, if I had not started this post, I would not be learning so much. I know it sounds icky but I am glad they do recycle the water also. It is hard to imagine the oceans being all dried up. The oceans comprise so much of our continent. I do wholeheartedly believe in recycling. It is wonderful that industries and companies can do so much in this regard to turn an old shoe, for instance, into something else very useful.
@Rtlsnk316 (1197)
• Mexico
18 Jun 09
I might disagree a little on the drying up the oceans part. Doesn't the water cycle starts or ends at the ocean? eventually all the water that goes to the sewer, that falls from rain, that flows from rivers, that's where it goes. That's part of what I remembered from elementary, maybe I got it backwards or something.
• United States
18 Jun 09
i'd always thought that madness too that they didn't. desalinization would be worth it in the long run. i believe saudi arabia's already doing it.
@momiecat (997)
• United States
18 Jun 09
Hi Scarlet, I am with you. I think it would be worth it. We need to find a creative mind, a genius, like Thomas Edison, who can invent a way that desalinization will work without all the cost. If they built the darn railroads across the country and through a lot of obstacles and they built a sewer system that supposedly goes to the sea (at least here in Calif.), then building the piping to carry the water should not be that hard. It will just take time and money.
@khayshenz (1387)
• United States
18 Jun 09
The technology is called desalination (DESAL for short) - and it's relatively expensive compared to other sources of water. There are a couple in California (maybe about 10 plus or minus). The technology is still mainly for those who can afford it - and trust me, most districts would rather upgrade their wastewater treatment plants to tertiary treatment in order for it to be potable (water reclamation - tertiary treatment). For water shortages in third world countries, it is typically just an issue of finding different sources of water - i.e. wastewater treatment plants, groundwater, etc. Sometimes - the problem is just transporting water from one place to the next with minimal effort. Piping and pipelines are not the most expensive part of water improvement plans - typically, the most expensive parts are the engineering design and research, and also the water testing involved before and after construction. In California - I would add permitting and getting the project approved. I can talk water treatment and wastewater treatment all day -it's what I do for a living and thoroughly enjoy it! So when you have money and ready to install that Desal Plant - give me a holler, I'll be happy to do all the technical and engineering work. ;-)
@momiecat (997)
• United States
18 Jun 09
Hey, what a great response! I appreciate hearing from an expert! It is too bad that the government cannot divert moneys to projects like this. I think it would greatly benefit our society. There is so much waste today that I think if we had efficient people in government who were not as concerned about their own selfish reasons for getting rich, some of the money could be spent in this regard. Are we talking gazillions of dollars here? I wonder how much water those 10 plus/minus plants in California are producing? They are telling us to conserve water and that the price of water is going up or if you use excess water you will be charged extra. Where does this water go that is being desaled in Calif? (I live in Calif.) That is great to hear you love your job. You are very fortunate in that regard.
@gridle (44)
• China
18 Jun 09
You know something that says easily but do hardly!I think all of us know the importantance about the environment,but there are still so many pollution!How could you deal with it?
@momiecat (997)
• United States
18 Jun 09
We as human beings need to strive for a better world every day. If everyone did just a small part, like recycling, bicycling when they can instead of using a car, etc., there would be some hope for the future of the planet.
@TheCatLady (4696)
• Israel
17 Jun 09
We can and we do. Israel has a desalinization plant in Eilat. We are building 2 more near Ashkelon. When finished it will greatly help us with our severe water shortage. We use reclaimed water for crops in some areas. A lot can be done to provide clean water. Water never disappears. It is always moving from one place to another.
@momiecat (997)
• United States
18 Jun 09
Very interesting. That is amazing that Israel can do this but the United States keeps saying it is too costly. These people talk about "global warming" and "living green" but they make excuses that it cannot be done. You have proven that it can be done and it is being done. I don't really believe we can ever use up the ocean as a resource. I thing there is more water on this planet than anything else and it would take a very long time if it ever happened at all. I appreciate your thoughts.
@CatsandDogs (13964)
• United States
24 Jun 09
I couldn't agree with you more momiecat! I've often wondered the same thing myself! I mean, we can get oil from Alaska through pipes so why not the ocean water when we need it? The water could be ran through the filtration system just like rain water is and be used instead of going through a drought. Good question, now where's that good answer? lol
@aseretdd (13712)
• Philippines
18 Jun 09
There are places that desalinate salt water to turn it into fresh drinking water... but the process involves a large plant with lots of worker... and the waste material is another thing to think about... it is very possible to turn salt water into drinking water... but it is just too expensive...