Desalination provides a partial solution to water scarcity. While the desalination process provides much needed water to coastal areas, it also has various environmental impacts. Older operations entrain and impinge large and small organisms during the collection process, use significant amounts of energy, and produce substantial volumes of waste brine. These short- and long-term impacts warrant the involvement of environmental health practitioners.
Sustainable water supplies depend on more than just the weather. Accordingly, we start by analyzing the rising global demand for drinking water and the ongoing deterioration of the oceans. Next, we detail known impacts of desalination, and discuss alternatives for addressing water scarcity. We challenge environmental health practitioners to help meet current and future drinking water needs with respect to environmental sustainability. The ocean is finite. We should ask the right questions so as not to consume it at an untenable pace.