Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mexico-US border region looks to desalination to counter a parched Rio Grande

Treehugger: We´ve noted in the past plans for new desalination plants in Australia and low-grade energy desalination technology from New Mexico.

Down on the U.S.-Mexico border, for better or for worse, cities and states are increasingly looking to desalination, an expensive an energy-intensive process of removing the salt from brackish water to create fresh water. The efforts are a response to increasingly clear evidence that the Rio Grande and its underground aquifers are being sucked dry on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The Rio Grande is one of the most stressed river basins in the world and water use is already at its limit," said Casey Walsh, a water specialist Mexico's Iberoamericana University, recently told Reuters.

El Paso, which was told by experts it would run out of water in 2010, has shown the largest commitment to desalination so far on the border. In August, the city opened the world's largest inland desalination plant to turn brackish ground water into freshwater and ensure decades of water supply.

The city of Brownsville on the Gulf of Mexico is now considering a US$150 million desalination plant. Mexico's Tamaulipas' state government is looking at the problem another, greener way, and is focusing on conservation. The goverment has proposed a US$500 million plan to build an aqueduct to channel Rio Grande water into pipes.

"Without this, we will continue to lose half of our water to seepage and evaporation," said Jaime Cano, a director at the Tamaulipas state water commission. :: Via Planet Ark

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