I was once fortunate enough to find myself on a tiny and very remote island in the Indian Ocean. The chap that was responsible for utility provision gave me a tour of their tiny generators and their very own desalination unit, which was much smaller and cleaner than I might have expected. The water that it pumped from the ocean was then used for showers, swimming pools even drinking water. This is happening all over the world and Australia is currently looking long and hard at desalination so why don’t we just go for it? I know of a few ex bankers that could pay for the lot!
There is one undisputable fact that cannot be denied. Almost all living things on earth depend on water for their survival. Like oxygen, food, clothing and shelter, water is an absolute necessity for the survival of all human beings. Britain is made up of a group of islands in the northern hemisphere which sees it’s fair share of rainfall every year and despite all of our moans and groans about the long, dark, wet winter days we have to be grateful that we live in a land that conserves such rainfall in vast reservoirs for processing and consumption. What I’ve never quite understood is why we should ever run short of water? Yet, almost annually, we are told that there are water shortages and that we should conserve supply and reduce our use. As an island nation I’m sure it wont have escaped your notice that we are surrounded by water, albeit very salty water. That’s why Britain’s first desalination plant was given government approval in 2008 to help ensure that hosepipe and sprinkler bans become a thing of the past. The plant however, planned to be sited in the Thames Gateway, and will service only that region, and is not without its critics. Environmentalists argue that the moneythat was used to provide the plant (some £200m) would have been better spent on the repair of our disastrous leaking networks saying, also, that it would use twice the amount of energy currently used by the average treatment works. As it turns out the plant will ruis running on renewable energy. Conveniently putting all arguments aside for just one moment I can’t help but think that desalination is an excellent idea. I’m sure it wouldn’t reduce our water bills in any way, but it would ensure that the little luxuries that we all take somewhat for granted in the summer months like cleaning the car or watering the lawn would not be subject to any more banning orders. Perhaps our huge industrial sites could have one of their own: Corby could get a never-ending supply of salty water directly from the North Sea, and all municipal and private swimming pools could be filled and re-filled at will!